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SCRIPTURE CHAZACT£3tS: 

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PRACTICAL :M?5LrTZMZVr 

PRINCIPAL Hisrriizs 

NEW T E S T A ? ! Z X T. 

IN TWO T-iri££5. 

T O I- I- 

By THOMAS ROBI X SON% ?^A. 
Vic AX of St. Majlt's^ Lzzceftxil, 

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Late Fellow ot Txisity Ccl: t gz, C^irFTTi^rz. 



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Z^ i&;r' J^*''* ""^ Jtr fr ^j 5»r. 

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LONDON: 

PRIXTED for the AUTHOR; 

And fold by J. Mathews, No. i 8, in the Strajcd 
C. Dilly, in the Poultry, 2aii\y5 *5m^ 
Booksellers in L.ticE.v«.i^ 



M.BCC.XCU. 




Chap. !• The charaiJler of John the Baptlft 



Chap. II, 



Sea. 2. 

Sea, 4. 
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Jefus Chrift 



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III 

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141 
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Chap. II. 



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SCRIPTURE CHARACTERS. 



JOHN THE BAPTIST, 



CHAPTER I. 

Excellence of the New Tejlament^ whub. Hie tfje OUy . 
injlru£is us by examples-^ Preparation m^de for Mef^ 
Jiah'i appear ance^^John appointed His harbinger — 
commended by our Lord — his birth miraculous— called 
by a fignificant name — prophecy of his father concern^ 
ing him— his education and early piety-^fulfilled an^ 
<ietit predi^iions — his office — auflerity — doSirine of 
repentance — baptifm — reproofs emd admonitions-^ 
te/iimony concerning Chrifi — baptised Jefus-^referred 
all to Him-^a ^pattern to minijlers — effe^s of his 
preaching — reviled-^fent for by Herpd^ imprifoned — 
directed his difcipUs to enquire (jf Jefus^^beheaded— 
buried. 

1 HE Old and New Teftament are clofcly con^ 
nefted, as parts of the fame plan, which mutually 
confirm and illuftrate each other. Both are derived 
from the fame divine original; and therefore there 
can be no oppofition between them. • But, without 
detracting from the authority or excellence of the 
more ancient fcriptures^ we may aflert, that the New 
Teftament claims oiir peculiar regard, as containing 
the cleareft and moft intereftirig revelation ever deli- 
vered to mankind* and exhibit\u§f l\\^ cwc^\Ji^<\sw\ •^^ 
Vol. hi. • B ^ 



% SCRIPTURE CHARACTERS. 

the great defign, which had been in fome mcafurc 
made known from the beginning. Salvation was 
publifhed to Adam immediately after the fall, and in 
every fucceeding age intimations were given, that 
redemption (hould be accomplilhed. Yet much ob- 
fcurity refted on all the various difpenfations, till it 
pleafed God to difperfe the darknefs by the full mani- 
ieftation of his grace through Jefus Chrift, and to 
^ bring life and immortality to light through the 
Gofpel*/' 

In the New Teftament, alfo, we perceive the fame 
mode of inftruftion adopted as in the Old. Our faith, 
indeed, is fixed by an exprefs and authoritative de- 
claration of the truth: but it is not taught in the fame 
fyftematical way as in the generality of human writ- 
ings. A conTiderable portion of this little volume is 
faiftorical ; and accordingly, to explain or inculcate the 
principles of our religion, it refers us to fa6ts and ex- 
amples. Thefe we fhall endeavour fairly to repre- 
fent J pointing out at the fame time the practical im- 
provement of each circumflance as it occurs. Though 
we (hall ncccflarily be led to infift on evangelical 
dodlrines, for they will ofFer themfelves to our notice, 
and furely they are too important to be overlooked, 
yet we fhall not lofe fight of the original intention, 
of deducing profitable leffons for the regulation of our 
condu£l from the principal lives and characters which 
are recorded. 

We are now paffing from the comparative obfcu* 
rity of all the preceding ages, to behold the fplendour 
of a p^rfe£t day breaking forth in the gofpel. Do 
we not exult, while we hear a heavenly voice ad- 
drefling us, *' Arife, fhine, for thy light is come, 
and the glory of the Lord is rifen upon theef?" But 
^he Chriftian difpenfation, fo bright and excellent, 

\$ ufbered in by one of an inferior luftre, which 

"* a Tim* i* ao« f I(a. Ix* i- 

prepared 



JOHN THE BAPTIST. J 

f^repared the way for it. The revelations of God 
have gradually increafed in their clearneis from the 
beginning. As, in the natural world, we are not 
furprifed by Ae fudden biyft of day, for we have no- 
tices of its approach; fo the Sun of Righteoufhefsdid 
not arife, till an illuftrious harbinger, like the morn- 
ing ftar, bad announced his appearing. 

But who fhall be appointed ^^ to go before the 
face of the Lord?" We might conclude, it muft be 
One of diftinguifhed excellence; and accordinglv we 
find the higheft chara<3er given of John the JBap- 
TisT, for whom this honour was refer «red. Our 
Lord ftyles him ^^ a burning and a fhining light *," 
and declares, <^ among them that are born of women, 
there hath not rifen a greater than John the Bap- 
tift t»" Many very eminent perfons are exhibited 
in the Old Teftament; but, upon the opening of the 
new difpeniation, the grace of God was more abun- 
dantly difplayed. John the Baptift Hood before all 
the ancient patriarchs and prophets, as to the dignity 
of his office, and his fpiritual difcernment. Many oi 
them had defired to fee and hear thofe things, of 
which he was witnefs; but they were not permitted. 
They fpake and wrote much concerning the Saviour, 
and had large difcoveries of his worth and excellence: 
but John was favoured with more exprefs revelations, 
underfiood and defcribed more clearly the nature and 
benefits of his redemption, and himfelF beheld his 
glory. They pointed to him, as to a diftant obje*3, 
the " Me.liah that was to come;" John not only 
proclaimed his immediate approach, but referred the 
people to him, as already prefent before them, iaying, 
** Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the 
fin of the world j!" 

Yet the commendation of the Baptift by our 
Lord, is given with fome limitation. Though John 

* John V. 2$^ \ Mat. xi. ii, \ Y^Vtlu ^v 

B % 



4 SCRIPTURE CHARACTERS. 

>was advanced above all, who preceded him, manj 
are placed in a higher point of elevation. " He that 
is lealt in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.'' 
for as the great myftery c^ godlinefe was foon after- 
ivards more fully opened, one of the Icaft abilities 
and meaneft office in the church of Chrift (which is 
often fignified by " the kingdom ot heaven") might 
iinderftand more of the plan of falvation, than even 
'this eminent faint. If we extend our views to " the 
kingdom of heaven** in its moft exalted fenfc, it is 
ilill more obvious, that he, who obtains the lowed 
difl;in£tion in the fociety of the blefled above, wiB 
there difcovcr more of the rich and fovereign grace 
of our God, and poffefs a larger meafure of know- 
ledge, holinefs, and glory, than ever John could have 
done, with all his gifts and attainments, upon oia^. 

From die confideration of this charafter, then, wc 
(hall fee reafon to adore the divine mercy toward 
ourfelves, inafmuch as we enjoy a clearer revelation 
of the Son of God; and, though our place in this 
world be obfcure, and our abilities contemptible, yet^ 
•dying in the faith of Chrift, we fhaH foon be admitted 
•to a ftate of purity, happinefs, and honour, of which 
-the moft excellent men are not even capable in their ' 
f)refent ftate. 

Many remarkable circumftances at- 
^cl^bcfo^th!e ^^"^^^ ^^^ coming of the Baptift, which 
<«ommon ac Hxed the eyes of the public upon him, 
xpunt called and excited a general expedation of 

•uio omini. |-Qj^g great events to be accompliflied 

him. He was introduced by a train of niiracles* 

5 parents were too far advanced in years to look 

any children in the comnron courfe of nature *^ 

ngel from heaven announced his birth, 

nted the father Zacharias, with the cha- 

o£ce which his intended fpn ihould fuf- 

♦ Lake i. 5, 5cc. 

taiiu 



pHfl THE BAPTIST. 5 

fiMP. His very name was determined; and it was 
foretold by the divine meflenger, that he fhculd be a 
perfon of peculiar holinefs and abftinence, *^ filled 
with the Holy Ghoft evtn from his mother's womb .,'* 
and, as the promifed forerunner of the Mciliah, be 
the favoured inftrument of " turning many of the 
children of Ifrael to the Lord their God," Decla- 
rations fo wonderful Zacharias was backward to cre- 
dit; and therefore, for a puniihment of his unbelietV 
and a confirmation of the prediction, he was in- 
flantly ftruck fpeechlefs. At the appointed time the 
child was born; and on the eighth day, when the rite 
o^ circumcifioa was performed, Zacharias dire£ledy 
in ^b2dience to tlie angel, that he fhould be called 
John, which fignifies,. " The gifr^ or mercy of the 
Lord." Immediately the tongue of'^the pious fathen 
wafr loofedy and,- under the abundant and powerful 
influence of the Holy Ghoft, " He fpake and praifed 
God." The fpirit of prophecy had ceafed from the 
days of Malachi, that is, about four hundred years ^ 
but it was revived in Zacharias, who broke forth 
upon this event into an infpired fong, cxpreffing the 
moft ardent gratitude to God for remembering his 
boly covenant' and fending redemption to his people 
The venerable prieft enlarged upon the nature and 
excellence of the falvation about to be efFeiled ; and 
then looking on his infant fon, he exclaimed, " Thou^ 
child, (halt be called the prophet of the Higheft; for 
thou (halt go before the face of the Lord, to prepare 
his ways ; to give knowledge of falvation unto his 
people by the remifiion of their, fins, through the ten- 
der mercy of our God; whereby the day-(pring fronv 
on high hath vifited us,, to give light to them that fit 
in darknefs, and in the fliadow of death, to guide out 
feet into the way of peace.'* 

Thefe furprifing circumftances could not fail to at- 
traft the notice of the neighbourhood. ** All they 
that lieard them laid thejn up ia Xh^vc \v^^X%^ ^'*"'" 



6 SCRIPTURE CHARACTERS* 

What manner of chiU fhall this be?** and probi 
(hey were the mere dtfpofcd to receive him, wher 
entered on his public miiiiftry. His educattonj a 
and deportment from his infancy, were To lingular 
to excite general regard* " The hand of the L 
was wilh him,*' not only according to the comr 
coLirfe of providence to fupportj invigorate, and f 
ted him, but to endue him with an extraordinary m 
f^rre of wifdom, holinefs^ and zeal, and ether fpe 
pits for his miniflerial fervicCp *' The chitJ gr 
zwd waxed ftrong in fpirit,*' 

Shall not we ahu perceive and admire the mere 
interpoftcion of our God, in behalf of his chuti 
iJehath been ever mindful of his promifei and at 
prtiper f^afon he hath not delayed to raife up fuits 
inftrnments for the execution of his purpofes* ** ( 
of the mouth of babes and fuckliiigs he hath perfe^ 
praife */' And this confideradon furniQics enc 
ragement, both to parents and children. Shall 
not be concerned^ and emboldened to pray for th 
that they alfo, like John, may be fanftified from 
womb? If we fee that they pofFefs, not only a vi 
rous conflitution, but wifdom and fervour in the ■ 



e by inau^uratioii, at the age of thirty yearK, 
;raiitecl^ there was a peculiar atifterity and mor- 
ion in John's conduit, fuited to the jiurpofe!; of 
mllry, which is not enjoined upon alL But if 
ead an exemption from fucb ftiverirtes, are you 
Tty t^ indulge every vain and foolifh defire of 
hearts, to fpend your lirne and flrength in fen- 
idulgence, and, by abufmg the world, to pro- 
the God who made it? PoMbly, you may fpeak 
f John's enuncm fani^ityj becaufc he is removed 
the earth, and his example cannat now diflnrb 
but da you not hate thofe in the prefent day> 
any meafure refemWe him, axid live in hol^r 
trance and fclf-denial, " renouncing the pomps 
mities of this wicked world?" 
C for what poft or employment was this re- 
ible child defigned? He carne to fulfil the un- 
jrophecies, which foretold the appearance of 4 
us perfonj as a harbinger or forerunner of the 
^h *t This character the Baptift claimed; and 
Lilar care is taken by the Kvangelifts to prove, 
]ofe fcriptures had their completion in him. He 
he Elijah^ whom Malachi deicribed. For 
}. to aflgmcd Aot tlie nam.e of that acalous re- 



8 SCRIPTURE CHARACTERS. 

When kings and great men of the earth are about 
to travel, they fend their mcflengers before theoi> 
that, all due preparations being made, they may meet 
with a ready reception. Every obflacle, which might 
prevent their progrefs, muft be removed; the rug- 
ged mountains levelled; the deep valleys railed up; 
the winding path muft be rendered ftraight, and all 
the rough places fmooth* To do this in the moral 
world; to proclaim the approach of the King of 
kings ; to take out of the way whatever might oppofe 
his admifSon, ignorance, pride, prejudice, and the 
Jove of prefcnt things ; and to difpofe the people to 
receive him by a reprefentation of his glory, and of 
the benefits which he beftows ; were among the great 
objects of the Baptift*s office. 

it were tz{y to (hew, that he came at the very fca- 
fon, which had been foretold. For the fceptre was 
departing from Judab, the feventy weeks of Daniel 
were expiring, and many were " waiting for the 
confolation of Ifrael,** when John appeared to de» 
clare, that the promifed Deliverer of the Church was 
at hand, and that " the Lord, whom they fought, 
would fuddcnly come to his temple *-" The fcrip- 




JOHN THE BAPTIST^ 9 

precipitate, full of their own importance, eager to be^ 
employed, who run and are not fent. He waited ia 
modeft retirement till he received his commiffion. 
But when " the word of God came to him" (and 
the revelation,, doubtlefs,. carried its own evidence 
with it)j he delayed no longer, but went forth, with 
the utmofl: earneftnefs, to reprove and awaken the 
carelefs and impenitent. Every thing' in his appear- 
ance, his mamiers, and his doctrine, tended to ex- 
cite a folemnity and a ferioufnefs in the minds of his 
audience. He was clothed, as the ancient prophets,, 
with a rough garment, which was compofed only of 
camels hair, and bound about him with a leatheriv 
girdle; and he fubfifted on (uch food as the wilder- 
nefs afforded, " locufts and wild honey." Hia ad- 
drefs alfo was calculated to ftrike an awe into the 
people: for he fpake with authority as a meflenger 
from God, *' Repent ye, for the kingdom of heavea 
is at hand.'* Here we obferve the nature and the 
grand fubjeft of his preaching. He declared, that 
the Lord God was about to eftabliili ia the earth that- 
holy and fpirltual kingdom which had been^fbretold^ 
efpecially by. Daniel * ;. and that no one could be adr 
mitted into it,, who did not abhor and forfake his finj^ 
and with, a contrite heart return unto the Lord.. 
Without making any exceptions^ he confidered 4II 
perfons as ia a ftat^ of depravity, guilt, and condem- 
nation, who muil experience an entire renovation^ 
and fubmit to the grace and government of Jefus, i|i. 
order to their final falvation* Thofe alfo, wha pro- 
fefTed any deep compunction, he required to conforqi 
to the fignificant rite of baptifm, which he admini- 
ftered; thereby publicly acknowledging their poJIuj^ 
tion, their need of a fpiritual wa{hing,^^i^d tl\eir de^ 
termination to abandon every evil way. i ^ j 

; * Dux, li. 44. [yii, 14, 27*. ^ j - . 

B 5 K\fcas&«i 



A teacher lb mnarkabfe codd not Wt ezcits ge 
P€n\ Docice ; aiid mccorSti^W we find fMt tinfii«f 
myHitud^ of pet^ple rcforod to htn*^ Jtnd irer 
brought under cbc inoft ^ions i iuytefcia i, Y^t fa 
fought not popular jipi^lsiafe-, lor bbadneaitioits wtr 
io pomted, htt Fegmols lb fercret C^^ <^^ fernic^ 
likclf to be oSeiifivt in die cxtrc?nc- Men of al 
funics 3Jid characUrs, the motl oppofite in princji^h 
attended on hii miniffrT; but he littered none 
While many of the Pharilee^ ^nd Sadduce^ flocke 
after him (the former of whom were Uriel In afl ei 
ternal obfervancc* of religion, the latter licentiofl 
and profane)i he addrc^d tbem in terms of th 
fharpcft reprehenfiofi, and ddciibcd them all as undc 
the iame condemnation. Surprifed by their appeal 
ance, and fufpe^ing their fincerifyj he called on thei 
to give decided prooft of their penitence by frtirt* i 
f ightcoufnefs* He warned them, that their reUtio 
to Abraham, and their place in the vifible Chufd 
would avail them nothmg; that the laft trial was the 
aftbrded them; and that, if this were negle^Sta 
tht^ir cafe was defperatf, their everlafting dellruiftic 
tutaVGidable^ 

Many of his polite and learned hearers 




JOHN THE BAPTIST. |I 

A doubt feemed to be entertained, whether he 
were not the promifed Meffiah ; but this was fooA 
refolved by the unrefcrved declarations of John. 
He teftifiea, that the Saviour^ who was about to ap- 
pear, pofl'efled a dignity immenfely fuperior, and that 
he confidered himfelf unworthy to perform the mean- 
eft offices for fo exalted a charaSer. He reprefented 
Him as pouring upon' his Church the abundant in- 
fluences of the Holy Ghoft, which, refembling fire 
in its operations and efFe£ls, enlivens and purifies the 
foul. But he warned his audience, that the fame il- 
luftrious Perfonage is not to be impofed upon by any 
vain pretences to piety ; for that He will make ah 
awful reparation between the righteous and the wick- 
ed, and, while he dete£ts the hypocrites, that he will 
deftroy them for ever. 

At length when Jefus came forth to public view, 
and prefented himfelf to be baptized, John pointed 
him out as the very Chrift, of whom he had fpoken*. 
It had been wifely ordered in the providence of God, 
that thefe two^ though fo nearly related, were till 
that time ftrangers to each other: for thus all fufpi- 
cion of a collufion between them was 'prevented. 
But then, it fliould feem, the Baptift received a fe- 
cret revelation, that the perfon approaching him was 
the Meffiah j and therefore, under a fenfe of his own 
\pferiority and defilement, he cried out, " I have 
need to be baptized of thee; and comeft thou to 
roe?" His objection, indeed, was overruled; and, 
when he had adminidered the divine ordinance, his 
teftimony concerning Jefus was immediately con- 
firmed by the vifible defcent of the Holy Ghoft, and 
a voice from heaven declaring his high charadter. 

Do we not perceive and admire the meeknefs and 
humility of John, who was fo careful to affiime no- 
ting to .himfelf, and to give all glory to Chrift 2 The 

• John i. 15| &c. 

B 6 tojCx^ 



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- z:Tr r:': ::- ?':..■; ii- i'.-i :f H-* c'.-iiiis 

■J ..-:;:: c: :: * ri:c_ -. "I ; i.tT. :.: replace!, 

L\: :'::«tzi:t :jT*i irii : .s :~i: 'r rrf^cndcd 

r; :.-y c:_-.jr r^ir. rr; Hirr.'iSr :: ir.s Savi- 

1. i rrrcrred i.-rr- ^j 'i—-, a zzz l-^rfrr. ;»hom 

-;g :d Lr.trcc-:?. D17 irrr ii-. vr.i.c Jcfus 

b '. V LZi* Til i-i i-p'O - h . 5 r rti: *. " r ;. : . '' :■ re pcstcd 

::: "r.ir.) cc-cirr.:rg z!~, ir.i d^-si cjs:n the 

.-:!.-£ rriii^r.i^i'j :: r^pirJ H.:r^ i$ i-c great 

Li:orv icr:-.je, *r.icr. i.cr.e ci:i exp^j:? our 

** Beh-'.j, ' fiii he, •• L.e Li.-r.b or God, 

". taker:. i«T:iy z'zt :;:• c: i~i w:r.^ : 

•. in:::r.er ccc£!icr. ve p;rce.ie ::: h ra the fame 

-.ra:c rtfpect for Je."-> i:.c cizier c«irc to 

isrs acq-ii.-.tci wiir. r.is cr-L-i^er. When 

r.^a e::;erci en r/s ir.:-::":r;.\ ^-i immenfe 

^.-i f-Gckcc after him, the c./ci^'is :: J-'^hn were 

':>iC. left :heir r:.a::cr'> r?p.;:«::or. :'h.^-"!d :"u?er*. 

iT.i Baprlfl in:n:t»::aie'.y c^rrecicJ thcrr ie:iioury 

r-irrcwncfs of fpirir, ana wi:h an iiior.ifliine hu- 

:y a:.d z«m, rejoiced that the Sx\ iour fhouid be 




JOHN THE BAPTIST. IjJ 

and a fupreme regard to the Redeemer. But the 
minifters of reh'gion feem more efpecially concerned 
to place this eminent pattern before them ; for their 
office requires a nearer refemblance and imitation of 
him. They alfo are lent to " prepare the way of the 
Lord J** that, every obftacle being removed, He may 
come, and reign in the hearts of his fniful creature9. 
Thefe are like the wildernefs, in which are various 
impediments, forbidding all accefs* How much is 
to be done! In a moral fenfe,.the rough and crooked 
'paths muft be levelled and made ftraignt. The faith*- 
ful heralds muft " cry aloud and fpafe hot, and (hew 
the people their tranfgreffions," and proclaim unta 
the end of the world, " Behold, your Salvation com- 
cth.'* In every different fituation, to which they 
may be appointed,, as they have but one objed^, their 
knguage muft be the fame, " Repent ye ; for the 
kingdom of heaven is at hand."^ They muft therefore 
preach the law, explain its extenfive demands'and tre- 
mendous fan£tions^ in order to convince men of their 
depravity, guilt, and danger, and of the neceffity of 
an entire renovation. Thus they will labour, like 
John, to " turn the difobedient to the wifdom of the 
juft, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord." 
You admire the zeal, the courage, and the faith- 
fulnefs of the Baptift ; but are you defirous, that 
your minifters fhould in any meaiure copy after him? 
Are voti willing to hear the do6lrine, which he con* 
Ibmtly delivercS, and to be addrefl^d with the fame 
unreferved plaimiefs? Your wifhes,^^ indeed, in this 
cafe arc not to be confulted : *« whether you will hear, 
or whether you will forbear," the ambafladors of 
Chrift muft declare, " Except ye repent, ye fliall all 
periih*/' Yes 5 it is indi^enfebly requifite, that 
the moft regular and decent perfons (hould be con- 
verted, as well as open and grofs offenders*. This 

• LttkexUK V 



SCRIfTURB CHARACTERS* 




four pridef and alarms your fears; 4 
Acieibrc you are ready to quarrel wi rh thofej w 
fuch utiwclcome truths to y*Jur ears, Y 
bear t& be told of " fleeing from the wrath 
^" or of being " burned up with fire unquenc 
aZile:'' bo^-^ then, would you have been reconciled 
t^ preaching of the Ba^tiil.? 

Biit if is not enough J that the terrors of the law 
i^caoiinced i thofc ** who watch for your foul s,*^ v^ 
ufiify of ChnA, will cjideavour to clifplay Hjs glo 
grace, 2nd fuf&ciencyt and exhort you to receive hi 
who C{>iiies *■* to blefs you, in turning away ev< 
one of you from his iniquities *." They will din 
|Oii to the Oofe, and entreat youj if you be uru 
painful convictions of guilt, to " behold the Lamb 
God, which taketh away the iin of the woric 
Your attendance, approbation, and e Are em will 
only fo far pleaftng to them, as they may there 
have the better opportunity of recommending the £ 
viour to your regard, Inilead, therefore.^ ofaimi 
at popuUr applaufe, they will be moR: folicitous 1 
His exaltation^ and will rejoice when He is magj 
fiedj whatever may become of them. But, from I 
fame principle, they will alfo warn you, that concen 



JOmr THE BAPTIST. 15 

Tbe moft glorious ctkSts may be expeded from 
tiie miniftiy, which is ezercifed^ like that of the Bap« 
tift, with wiidofii, courage, impartiality, and faith* 
fuhiefs. Doubdefe, be laboured to good purport 
among the men of that generation, and ^^ many of 
die children of Ifirael did be turn to the Lord their 
God," according to the prophecy K It appears, too, 
that his teftimony was recolleded after his death, in 
confequence of which, probably, many were difpofed 
to believe on the Saviour f . But it mud not be con- 
cealed, that his excellence of character did not fecure 
him from contempt and ridiculea Among (bme, ef- 
pecially of the higher ranks, he was accounted no 
better than a madman, or a demoniac. ^ He hath 
a devil," was die fcomful reproach caft upon him %» 
The cafe is fomewhat fimilar among ourfelves; 
*' The preaching of die cro6 is to them that peri0i 
fooliihneis :" the moft exemplary condud in minifters 
will not filence die gainfayers : and if John were to 
rife from the dead, and to preach as bdfore, it is not 
likely that he woidd meet with any better treatment. 
Such kind of cenfures and deriiion will, indeed, ap- 
pear of litde confequence to tbofe, who are chiefly 
folicitous to promote the honour of Chrift and the ial- 
ration of fouls. Whatever railing accu&tions are 
brought againft them, expofed as they may be to vio- 
lent oppofition or ^ cruel mockings," if they are the 
inftruments of turning any to the Lord, and refcuing 
them from the wrath to come* they will confider them- 
felves as abundantly repayed, and diftinguiflied with 
peculiar favour. 

We cannot help wiftiing, that the valuable labours 
of the Baptift had been gready prolonged for the be- 
nefit of the world. But it plei^ God, whofe ways 
are unfearchable^ to appoint odierwife. I'he exercife 
of his public miniftry was fbort indeed; for he was 

* Lake i. i6« f Jobn x. 4X« % V^k^y^u ^v 



l6 SCHIPTURE CHARACTEltS*^ 

not only foon interrupted in it, but even cut off, as 
it is fuppofedy in little more than three years, after he 
entered upon it. We haften to confider the clofe of 
his life, which was attended with fome aflli<Stive cir* 
cuniftances, but not inglorious. 

John, we have feen, was held in high eftimation 
among the common people ; and this excited the no- 
tice, if not the jealoufy and difpleafure, of the Great. 
Accordingly he was fent for, perhaps from motives of 
curiofity, to the court of Herod, the Tetrarch of 
Galilee, before whom he had an opportunity of bear- 
ing a faithful teftimony ♦. This prince was of an in- 
famous character, and was then living in adultery with 
Herodias, the wife of his own brother Philip : yet he 
appeared to be much afFedled by the folemn admoni*^ 
tions of John, liftened to him with pleafure, and, in 
compliance with his expoftulations, reformed many 
parts of his conduft f. A worldly prudence would 
have fuggefled, that the preacher mull be filenton the 
particular fins, and efpecially the inceftuous com- 
merce, of the king. But the honeft zeal of the Baptiffc 
could not refrain; and therefore, without fearing the 
confequences, he boldly reproved him, as for his other 
offences, fo for his criminal connexion with that bafe 




JOHN THE BAPTIST. IJT 

was awhile reftrained, left, by the murder of this holy 
man,. who was generally beloved and venerated by 
the people, he fhould caufe an infurredtion among his 
fubjeSs. 

Shall we mourn for the imprifonment of the pro* 
phet? We muft lament the interruption of his mini- 
ftry; but there is no doubt, that he was happier 
in his chains, than his perfecutors in the palace. 
Shall we, then, be afraid of the confequences, to 
which a faithful difcharge of our duty may expofe us? 
No : let us revere our confciences, and dread the dif- 
pleafure of God more than the frowns of the world. 
Let us openly avow our attachment to Chrift, and 
our abhorrence of fin ; nor dare to give up the trutb 
in compliment to any man. For it were better to 
go down into a dungeon for righteoufnefs' fake, than 
to enjoy the favour of princes, with the reproaches of 
our own minds, and a fear of the divine Judgments* 

It fhould feem, that John's difciples had free accefs 
to him during his confinement, and that he was foli- 
citous to introduce them to a further acquaintance 
with the Saviour, to remove their fufpicions, or to 
confirm them in their attachment to Him. On this 
principle, we apprehend, when he heard of the grow- 
ing reputation and the miraculous works of Jelus, he 
fent to him two of his belored followers (not for his 
own fatisfadion, but theirs) to enquire, -Whether or 
no he wais the true MefHah ♦. Our Lord, probably 
knowing the purpofe, gave a full anfwer to the queN 
tion, by referring them to the wonders which he per- 
formed before them, in proof of his character, and 
then warned them to bevrafe of entertaining preju- 
dices againft Him.-r-May we learn from John, when 
we are quitting the world,' to bear our teflimony fo» 
Chrift, to rejoice in the advancement of His kingdom, 
to dired our friends to Him, and labour to eftablifll 
them in the knowledge and love of his t\^m^\ 

* Afat, xu 2—$, U*kc \u. i^— av _ ' 



-:i: » 




^r v^L 



rir.-4f -r -r-^ -,^4^ jj-- -^-^ y^-,-x ir*7-r -wines, vbxh 

2? >KA ties^.- "'V* 5|-» r^ynr 3; S^UlfcuaflB With 

<VyS wuremirj :aif v^jc^ini Lc zie'uice af his 
p^/y^iiu'^ri^ yv. »-: ^ ^e ^ci^ 'ziumpb^ and 
J^/ <;-''/s/'^>^ i« vv.rr:«, x m itsa as ^" He had 

/--*;*. ^, V; • . ii-i-, : « =^. icr-:rs js: Why 
^^^f f.-, r^ ^^-^; v^^ -^^ ^- ^ -r^-, ami coo- 
^/ V, -^ y.-;x^^%-, V - : »esi:«:_3i' ve bive no 

/ // ./, -*^ ^ .^j^^^,.i ^^ ^ jj^ iccciall things 

[\\ ,/ '"'^' ' '^-^ '^A *^-- a-- « -^^ rii:iiful pco- 
> '■ "'" ' • », •^.v.;^/, f:vr> rrav lUrir cczis and im- 
!'/ ', ; ' ' " '^ ff^'^fiyr-u^-t. lz\e:\ for cieir artachmcnt 
^'' ' ' " ''^^ ''^''•irn i',r the cruel and premature 

* ^ *'''' ^''•'^ V ^' 't t^, him th^ ftrrkc cp^ild not 

'": "' '' '^''*' ^'^"' ^» »r,{f4r,t!y tranfmitrcd him from 
»""'//»/ v,r.y/.,o, ,„ ;, ^iiftinguiflicd place in the 

' '";" ': »' "•'» ''Mft^r. Thry performed their 

'"' »'"''. *'» Kiirylnij h\% cornfe; and proba- 
Hi i' n«*" 0,^/ »„.|«„,|. followers of Jefus. 

May 



9* 



JOHS THE BAPTIST- f^ 

May his memory be dear to us, as it was to them ! 
Whatever reproaches may attend the faints of God, 
living or dying, may we honour their names, and 
not be afraid to avow our efteem for them ! 

You, who hate and perfecute the zealous fervants 
of Chrift, would have taken part with Herod and his 
ailbciates. But ah ! confider, with wfa -m you would 
ViiHi to be joined hereafter! Will you not defire to 
have your portion with them, whom you now defpife 
for their holy flngularity ? O fcek, then, to poffefs 
their faith and lo\e, their felfdenial and devotion* 
** XJive diligence to make your calling and ele£lion 
fure:" and you {hall foon be, i^er6 the Haptift is, 
adoring your God and Saviour ; and you (hall there 
attain a higher decree of fandiity, blifs, and glory, 
than what diftinguiflied this eminent charadler upon 
earth. 

We pray, dierefore, with our Church, 

" Almighty God, by whofe providence thy fervaiiC 
John Baptift was woriderfully born, and fent to pre* 
pare the way of thy Son oi^r Saviour, bv preaching 
of repentance ; Make us fo to follow his ao^ine and 
holy life, that we may truly repent according to his 
preaching,, and after his example conftandy fpeak 
the truth, boldly rebuke vice, and patiently fufFer for 
the truth's fake, through Jefus Chrift our Lord* 
Amen*." 

* CoUeft for Saint John Baptiirc day* * 



^t.v 



;^ 



SCRIPTURE CHARACTERS^ 



JESUS CHRIST. 



CHAP. n. 



SECT. r. 

Importance of the charaHercfJifus — to leJfududwiA 
prayer — and for the Increafe of holy ajp^lons — its^ 
originality-— proof i cf his- exigence — writers of bih 
hijiory competent andfaitl^uL Confider^ as an tntr^ 
du^ion^ I.. His pri'txinence^ 11. His Diityy ilL 
His incarnation^ IV. Preparations made for hirn^ 

yVe cannot but feel a fufpicion and diffidence of 
ourfelves,, while yfe. attempt to delineate the charac- 
ter of the Saviour. So great is its importance in 
every viewj fuch a divine fplendour and glory are 




JESTS CHmiST. ♦ I 

^lat the Tcil mar be rcmcn-ed finom oar micds, and 
that He, '^ wiio comnsanded the light to fiiine cot of 
xiarknefs, may ihioe ixito otzr hearts, to give the light 
of the knowledge of the elonr cf God, in the fKre of 
Jefus Chrift *." Read ^he' hiftory of Alexander or 
Cefar, as you pleafe; but dare not to take up the 
holy records of die Sai-iour, to indulge an idle or curi- 
ous fpeculation : for every thing here is wonderful, 
4md diefigned to excite in us the devout affis^ons of 
gratitude, love, and zeal. 

A right apprehenfion of His diarader will con* 
-ftrain us to cry out with Simc<Hi, in rapturous adora- 
tion, ^^ Lord^ now letteft thou thy fervant depart in 
peace, — for mine eyes have fcen thy ialvation f*'* 
Every proper view of Him will, alfo, produce a fanc- 
tifying influence. For, " with open face, beholding 
as in a glafs die glory of the Lord, we are changed 
into the fame image, from glory to glory, even as by 
the Spirit of die Lord J." 

The moft fuperficial ohd&rvcr muft allow, that the 
hiftory of Jefus is replete with wonders. Almoft 
-every circumftance in it is uncommon, and unparat- 
lelled. He was born. He lived, fufFered, and died, 
in a very different way from any other man* Thfs 
originality of his charadler is a ftrong prefumption in 
favour of his religion; becaufe no impoflor ever did 
refemble him, nor is it probable, that fuch a refem- 
. blance would ever be pretended* 

It is not our def^n to produce the many evidences, 
which might be offered, in fupport and confirmation 
of our holy faith. But it may be noted briefly, that 
the proof of the whole depends on this fingle fafl:, 
that there did really exift fuch a perfon as Jefus of 
Nazareth. And this is eflabliihed upon flrongcr 
teftimony, dian any other fimilar fad can be. The 
4leclarations of many ancient Pagan writers put it be« 

• jk Cor* 1X0 6. 4* "^"l^c ii* a$, 30. "X ^^^^^i^* 



^'/ WTMFTUIl C?lAtACT£XS. 

w/* -: a i'Ai''jt', and it is mmr^feft, thst li>c ixfttnl 
(y ttrrrf* «/; jx/cr^ c-f the 'jofpti nrrer oocedenMiL 
i* .«: kif'^ rii'xc clMiily afccr:i:n?d bj die profngira 
k..'.«: ^'^fit!r:u2i()Ce fA Cnriftianity in the woridL Ftf 
vifi.f.i^i: ci'j chii fyftcm take its rife; or bow couUk 
K^vr kjt'ti, fu i>p'jrte'j ; if diere had ocver been inckr 
'J «:5i^ ficf ;«% Jcfu* Chriil ? 

Ji-jt air tlic records, which dcfcribe his life tti 
ff t.»fa/:tery p^tnuine accounts, and vriiat may &Mjk 
f* ! '/J on f The arifwer is obvious: die books of de 
t'i*:/^ 'leflament have a more convincing eTideoce 
iA I heir authenticity, than anjr other writings of the 
Ukr. diUAuiii date. The hiftory of our Lord is trut* 
n«iiu<l to lib by thofe, who poflefled the moft certiiii 
ihiifiiii'AUnti upon the fubjeA. The Evangelifls, 
M^nhcw and John, were difciples and conftant at- 
iijidiintb of Jciufci Mailc and Luke, alfo, had thebeft 
«/( 'j/' /J t unities of bcin^^ acquainted with his a£lions and 
dih<;iii(rfe from the apofllcs themfelves; theformerit 
i-i Mii'.wt'A htin^ the companion of Saint Peter, is 
ihi: UtiiTi wab of Saint Paul. Thefe publiflied their 
fifiiiiiiionb vrryfoon after the tranfaAions which they 
iLJiiic, Hnd in the midft of enemies; fo that their ac- 




HUH uuL lumii lumumiii, uii Euuiiviuugi iiiu 

of which ftem of grot importance, in order 
re may form right conceptions of the life ctf 
. We confide r, therefore, 
■lis pre-ex:iftence» Wc do not enquire after 
)ndition^ in which wc were pbced, previous to 
rth J for this J clearly, is our fir ft ftare, Buchts 
-ance in human fleih is defcribcd by fuch tx^ 
insj as cannot be applied to any mere man, and 
that he was poflcfled of a ginrious being, prior 
nativity. " He was fent into the world,** as 
Lther's meflengeri " He came down from hea** 
and took our nature^ of his own accord j all 
are mentioned as in fiances of his amazing con- 
fion; btjt fuch they could not be, if his^eKift:^ 
sad commenced only at his incarnation. He 
of himfelf as having " glory with the Father, 
the world was," and Saint Faul aiTerts, that 
mdc himfelf of no reputations." or *' emptied 
f of his §lory^" that he might be obedient unto 
►, And does not this language imply an an- 
nt ftate and dignity? Our life was not the cf- 
^ our choice J but he is reprefented as volunta- 
Iterin^ upon that, which he had in common 
ts, to fulfil his own gracious purpofesi and this 






^4- SCRIPTURE CHARACTERS. 

It was the Redeemer, who appeared and rev 
liimfelf to the church in the Old Teftament, b 
-name of Jehovah, and who is called " the A 
-in whom was the name of God," *' the Angel c 
prefence */* He governed the world by his 
vidence, before he took up his abode in it, ord* 
tdl things by his wifdom and power. Nay, he 
the CresCtor both of heaven and earth, with all 
various inhabitants, vifibleand invifible; ^^ he f 
«rid it was done; he commanded, and it flood hi 
rAni do not thefe things import, that he had an c 
«nce, prior to that of every creature? It n 
ieem ftrangeto fearch for arguments in fupport a 
truth, if we were not furrounded by tliofe, whc 
allo«^ the Saviour nothing more tlian the prop< 
of humanity^ An error this, which flrikes at 
foundation of our faith. For if we accede to fi 
fentiment, we muft either (ay, that fm is not I 
fenfive to God as to require any expiation 
therein we (hould deny his righteous charadler, 
the fan<flions of his holy law), or elfe we muft aba 
our hopes of heaven, ilnce no adequate atone 
can have been made by a mere man like ourfe 




JlSIf 








mertlj fcr fc CDr% =» Sb; 
ilifficidt ID be &6izcz Tx 
an other boois a^ 
beii^ the caa^ ct 
the Soil of God. 

Siificc it ia trih riacs ta r^-'sr ir rat ^^y'^^-m^ i;- 
Knpdoo of GO? Lcci's psr'ic i-c ciz^tr, wtk-ca 
ftinds at the beg*-: r- r^ « Szlzi J .c-'s G^'pe!], aj>i .5 
* proper introcaiios lo n- lix i^i charMter oc Ti- 
fus. It ffcins to have beta tiac grz^i ^-^gB 0/ £h# 
£vangclift to riacicacc tie divirc I'-rj of our Re- 
deemer, in c/prpo'luoa to tboib Tcry errors, wh:cJi 
then began to Ihcw thea:&!ve5, and have been <»! y 
broach^ afireih bj mooem heretics. In what terms 
could he have delivered the dodrine more expneislr, 
than he has done when he aSerts, " In the beginning 
was the Word, and the Word was with God, anJ the 
Word was God *:" It is obviou?, that he fpeaks, 
not of a mere attribute, but of a rea! perfon; for he 
adds that " the Word was made fie(h and dwelt 
among us +". He meant, therefore, to defcribe his 
beloved Mafter; and he has evidently applied to him 
the very fame title of " the Word," knd " the Word 
of God" in fome other places J, Nor is it an un- 
fuitable appellation; for (not to infift on the import 
of the term Logos, as the wifdom, or the intellectual 
image of God) as our words difcover the fcntiments 
of our-minds, fo he has^revealed the divine will, and 
declared the Father to us. 

♦ John I. 1, &c, t 14. 

J J John J. I. Rev. iix. x^ 
Vou III. C ^^ 



1& tCKIFTUlE CHAEACTEEl, 

** He was in the begicoifig,'* iwt otdj at the firft 
produc^oii of this worii, but before the esciftence of 
any creature* ** He was with God^" in '**- fame 
ftate of unlsTTifted bappitie^ and glcNy^ and one widi 
Jekotah byan tneliable and cnirftencus union of oar- 
ttire^ Nor was he rai^ to tbis ejoitcd rank, by ui 
a^ <>f pecuh'ar ^vour; but he alm^}^ pjfielTcd it, as 
€f hh own right, fince ** be was tjodj" panalcuig 
of the perfeiftions of Deity in all their fulnefs,— In 
confiniiation of thlf^ the Apofile afcribes the origin 
of the univerfe to hicn: for ^ all things were tnade 
by him, and without him was not any thing^ made 
that WES ma^e." And will it not be allowed, 
that ** he, who buHt aJl things, is God * V* Some 
indeed, have maintained, that in the fotmation of 
the world he i^led by a delegated power, and nc^t 
by his own eflenttal Divimt>% But how is this con- 
fident with Saint Paul's account, that ** all things 
were created for hjm," as well a5 ** by him," aiid 
that ** by him all things coniift f r" In what can 
he be inferior to Jehovah, who is not only the author, 
byt the final cauic, of all? Further, the Evangel id de- 
clares, that he had exiflence in himfelf as its originil 




jrsus CHRIST- 27 

he appeared, both from his words and works, to be 

One of fuperior dignity; for h^ fpake and a^^ed, in 

numerous ioftancesj as Lord ot the whole creation. 

There were fome fpccial feafonSj when the brightnefs 

of the Deity broke forth upon his favoured attendants. 

Thefe faw fome part of the radiance of his majefty, 

when he was transfigured on the mount i they 

heard the voicej by which " he received from God the 

Tather honour and glory*:" and they his chofen 

witnefles have declared that which they faw and heard; 

^ ftiewing unto us that eternd life, which was with 

the Father, and was manifefted unto them f/' The 

celeftial fpirits, alfo, who could not miftake his real 

character, were commanded to exprefs their reverence 

of him. For when the Lord God ** bringeth in the 

frft begotten into the world, he faith. And le: all the 

Angtk of God worftiip him J." 

Let us, then, maintain the truth, which is clearly 
Wivcred, and fully confirmed to us : nor fear, on the 
lellimony of the Apoftk?, to receive Jefus as " the 
Lord of ii;lory ||." If even angels bow before him 
with profound adoration, who are we, that we Jiould 
refufe to pay our homage to him ? Let us enquire. 
Do we entertain worthy notions of him, or feel a 
Suitable regard towards him ? Do we render him the 
iionour, due unto his name? It is poflible to afient to 
his Divinity, in a mere fpeculative way, while the 
heart remains infenfible to his excellence, and difuf. 

■* Matt, xvil, I, &c. a Pet. i. i6, 17. 
f I John i. 1 — 3. X Heb. i. 6. 

H Many are the publications, in which the Apof^ollcal teflimony 
for the Divinity of Chrift is admirably collefted and Hated. To thofe, 
^ho may not have leifure for the perufal of the works of Dr. Water- 
J'^nd, we might recommend " A ihort Defence of the Divinity of 
Chfift," puhlifhed at Leeds, price 3d. <* Jones's Catholic Doftrinc 
of the Trinity,'''' &c. If the learned reader wifli to fee the tcflimony 
of the primitive Church, in addition to that of the Apoilles, tiie wri- 
tings of Bifliop Bull, particularly his <* Defenfio fidei Nicsenae," and 
J'Dr. Horfley'sTrafts in controverfy with Dr. PrielUey/' aredeferv- 
*ng of his regard. 

C2 . kd.ti 



28 SCRIPTURE CHARACTERS. 

fcfted to his fcrvicc. Accordingly, many call hirOi 
*^ Lord, Lord," who fee no beauty in him, that they 
fhoiilJ defire him, and who do not the things whica 
he fays *. 

But to form a right judgment of the charafler of 
Jcfup, we muft take a dirfcrcnt view, and ohferve how 
he gives us accefs unto himfclf. The glory of his 
ciTcntial and unveiled Deity would dazzle our fight. 
13 ut we are encouraged to draw near, while we are 
allured, that he is Lmmanuel, " God u-ith us," or, 
(jod in our nature; ^^ God manifell in the flefli." 
Hence we confider 

in. His incarnation. Various and oppoGte errors 
have prevailed, r( fpefting the perfon of Chrift ; fome 
denying him Divinity, others humanity. We be- 
lieve, that they were both truly united in him, and 
that he was very God, as well as very man. Here, 
indeed, many objections are raifed. Such an aflump- 
tion of the manhood, it is faid, is unintelligible, un- 
iieceflkry, and impoiHble. Alas! to what impiety 
may we be led by our own pride and prefumption ! 
There are thofe, who will not allow any thing to Je- 
hovah, which exceeds their own fcanty comprehenfion, 
and, without regarding his cxprefs declarations, ar- 
itly determine the only way, in which it 




JESUS CHRIST- 



^ 



^hout the moJe of our own being, undertake to fay, 
of what the great and glorious God may be capable? 
The fa£l is clearly cftabHfbed; it is declared, that 
** the VVordj" who was in the beginning, with God, 
and was God, — ** was made flelh,*' He partook di 
all our inRrmides (fin only excepted), being fubje^ 
to the fame fenfations, fatigues^ pains, and tempta- 
tii as, as any the weakcft of our fpecies. He was, 
therefore, as truly maj)^ as if he had poOeflrd no higher 
nature. This will be fufliciently manifcft, while we 
defcribe the various circumflances of his life. 

We allow, then, that there is a feufe, in which the 
Son is inferior lo the Father; for, as his fervant, he 
is feat hy him^ receivuF his cammiirion from him, and 
to hirn lilcewifc owes his exaltation. * But cxprellions 
^f that kind, which arc frequent in the fcripLures, by 
lio means contradict thedoti^rirte here maintained; for 
they are ukd only wiih a reference to his manhood, 
or his mediatorial office, in which it is granted that 
he was in a (late of fubj^i^ion* The incarnatioti 
being admitted, the Bible fpeaks a confiftent language, 
refpe£ting the Redeemer; whereas, otherwife, it 
would be at variance with itfelf. 

This humiliation of Jefus is reprefented as a ne- 
cefTary, or at leall a fuitable, and expedient, fcheme- 
" In all things it behoved him to be made like unta 
his brethren */' In his humanity alone, he was capa- 
ble of obeying and fufferin^ for us: in this alone, he 
could fuftaiii tTiechara<Sterof** a merciful Hrgh-prieft,** 
and be *' ti»uched with a feeling of our infirmi- 
ties/' — Thu*^ the fame nature, which finned, atoned 
for the tranf^reffion, and repaired the breach. Here- 
by we draw near to God, and God to us: He ftoops 
and we rife to Him; our Immanuel joins 

ea ven and earlh together, O f ho w great itnportance. 




<^3 



ana 



30 SCRIPTURE CHARACTERS. 

'jnd how replete with confolation is the dodrine be- 
fore us! 

It is " the man Chrift Jefiis," who is propofed as 
our pattern : for, confidercd folely in his Divinity, he 
c'fxild not be an example Co us. In him, then. Hu- 
manity is glorioufly exalted ; and by an union widi, 
and a rcfemblance of, him, we (hall attain the higheft 
dignity, of which our fpecies is capable. O let us 
pray, ttiat we may fo contemplate his excellence, as 
to become more and more conformed to his like- 
ncfs! 

We might conclude, that the ohjcSt was great in- 
deed, for which a perfon of fuch eminence conde- 
fcendcd to take up his abode on the earth. We Ihall 
draw the fame conclufion from confidering 

IV. The preparations made for his appearance. 
Upon a flight view of the fubjeft, we muft fuppofe, 
that he was about to carry into execution (bme icheme 
of immenfc magnitude and importance. An expec- 
tation of his coming had been raifcd in the minds of 
men for four thoufand years. His introduction into 
the world, therefore, was not a fudden event, nor 
a dtfign formed in hafte. Every circumftance had 




JESUS CHRIST. JT 

and" embrace the mercy, which is ofFered to us through 
the Saviour, rather than difpute about it. His mani- 
feftation in the fleftiy no doubr, was feafonable : nay, 
the fcripture aflerts, that he died " in due time,'^ and 
that he came " in the fuhieCs of time *." Some rea- 
f >ns may be' afligned, why ihe great event did int 
take place fooner : 

1. That the neceflity of redemption might be 
niore clearly perceived ; and that our condition with- 
out fuch an interpofition might be proved to be ab- 
(blutely defperate. The Lord fufFered men to walk 
in the way of their own hearts, in order to evince 
their extreme and total depravity, the blindnefe of 
their underflandings, the perverfenefs of their wills^ 
and their utter inability to reftore themfelves. For 
if we poflefs any wifdom, ftrength, or goodnefs, fuffi- 
cient to efFeil our own recovery, how ftrange that 
no approach was made towards it for four thou&nd 
years! A full trial, furely, was allowed; but during 
all that time the ignorance, degeneracy, and wickcd- 
nefs of the world feemed to increafe. It appears, 
then, from undoubted' faft, that, left to ourfelves, 
y/e (hould never have obtained reconciliation with 
God, and that without Chrift v^e are *' ready to pe- 
rifh." O let us profit by this fad experience, and 
learn to value our Saviour the more ! 

2. That a long feries of clear and circumftantial 
prophecies might be delivered, and fulfilled in him. 
This was a wife and gracious appointment ; for the 

. Gofpel has thereby received an abundant ftrength of 
evidence. It pleafed God, in every age from the 
begrnning, to raife up and infpire faithful men> to pro* 
claim the coming of a Redeemer, and to deforibe his 
charader and ofiice. Accordingly, they foretold, 
with an aftonifbing exa£^nefs, his birth, life, and 
death, and the various incidents relating to them; and 

* Rom* j» 6. Gal. \y. 4« 

C 4 fi» 



32 8CR1PTURE CHARACTERS. 

from their united teftimony, compared with the Evan« 
pclilis, wc arc furniflied with in con teftabic arguments 
in fupport of the truth. They ** fpake, as they were 
moved by the Holy Ghoft," and have left us no rca- 
iunahlc caufc to doubt, that Jesus is the Christ. 

3. I'hat preparations might be made by the divine 
1'rovi(]cnce for his reception, and for the ready pro- 
pa^ ttion of the Gofpel. The Lord God, in all his 
prc( cding difpenfations, had a regard to the intended 
incarnation of the Saviour. Every thing elfe was ap« 
pointed in fubfcrvii^ncy to that event, which exceeds, 
in mngnitudeand importance, everyothercircumftance 
in tlic hiftory of mankind. Refpeding the Jews, this 
is obvious to all, who examine the facred records; 
and from the fame authority we learn, that the flat© 
4»f the heathen world, and all their great empires, were 
fo ordered as to make way for " the Prince of 
peace *." One dominion gave place to another, by 
the wife and fovereign difpofal of God, till, at the 
birth of our Lord, the Romans had extended their 
pow^r to every known part of the earth, and- thus 
opened a communication for fpreading the Gofpel 
ainongft the moft diftant nations. At that period, 
i\(o^ an univerfal txanauillitv prevailed^ which 




JtWS CHItlST. ' 31 

with an exprefs commiflion to prepare his wa7, and 
to proclaim his dignity and grace. 

We need not add more. From the concurrence 
of thefe various circumftances, we perceive fome vafl: 
deftgn to be in agitation, to which the attention both 
of heaven and earth is directed. 

The fubjecft before us will furnifli us with an in- 
terefting application to different charafbrs. 

I. You, who love the Saviour, or who feel your 
need of him, draw near, that you may admire his ex- 
cellency and perfection. How great is his glory!' 
How aftonifliine his condefeenfion ! How rich, and 
free, and extenhve is his mercy ! How firm the Co- 
venant, which he hath felled with his blood, and con- 
firmed by his oath! Let us join our teftimony, and 
fay, that he is ** full of grace and truth." Is there 
not enough in him, to difpel yoUr fears, to encourage 
and enliven your hopes? And will not the belief of 
what he has done for you conflrain you to devote your- 
fclves to him? You Icnow him not, unlefs you feel 
an irrefiftible force in this argument. Do you efteem 
the woild, then, little- and contemptible, in compari- 
fon of Chrifl ! O turn away your eyes from behold- 
ing vanity! Come, and contemplate his perfe<9b 
beauty, till you can fay, he is to me " the chiefef): 
among ten thoufand, and altogether lovely *►*'' 
• 2. You, who glory in yourfelves and not in the 
Saviour, who depend not upon his merit but your 
own, confider what you are doing. What a con- 
tempt do you put upon this divine perfon, and his gra-f 
cious iindertaicing ! You a<St, as if all this wondrou» 
plan had been entirely needlefs. For if your moral 
qualities and works of righteoufnefs be fufHciont to 
recommend you to the favour of Heaven, then doubt- 
lefsthe incarnation, as well as the death of Chrifl, was 
vain. Then the counfels of God have been employed 

♦ Sol Song V. lo, li, 

C5 



34 SCRIPTURE CHARACTERS. 

nboiit a fruitlefs defign; and his Providence has been 
contriving and executing an abfurd, becaufe an ufe- 
Icfs, fcheme. But this yoj would not aflert. And, 
if you allow the neccflity of fuch an interpofition, how 
wretched, how delperate muft be your cafe, which 
required it! Let the convi<5lion have its proper in- 
fluence ! Under a fenfe of your guilt, bow before the 
Redeemer, and implore the benefits of his (alvation: 
" Lord favc us; we perifh ♦!'* 

3. You, who are defpiiers of Cbrift, or who dif- 
reaard, at leaft, the important doctrine of his mani- 
feAation in the fleih, confider the grounds of your 
objedlions or your inattention to it. vVe entreat your 
fcrious examination of thefe things; and afk, why 
you (hould turn away your ears from them. You 
are curious to hear what is uncommon and wonder- 
ful ; eager to read any eventful hiftory of men and 
empires; and always at leifure to liften to the trifling 
news of the day. And is there nothing in this fub- 
jeft, which deferves your notice? Or how can you 
acquit yourfelves of the molt confummate folly, if 
you are indifferent about it? 

But your neglefi of the Saviour arifes not fo much 
from weaknefsof underftanding, as from a rooted de-' 




JESUS CHRIST. ^ .35 

fon ♦;'• and he will be heard, or you fhall anfwer it 
at your peril. He yet continues to addrefs you in 
terms of love and mercy: but if you rejeft or flight 
his offers, wo be unto you, that the Son of God is 
come. This aggravates your guilt, and renders your 
deftruftion certain and unfpeakably tremendous, 
*' He that believeth not is condemned already, becaufe 
he hath not believed in the name of the only-begotten 
Son of God t." 

May we know the day of our vifitation; and, ex- 
ulting in the glory and the grace of Jefus, may we 
each of us cry out with a holy tranfport, " Behold, 
God is my falvation: I will truft and not be afraid ; 
for the Lord Jehovah is myftrength andmyfong: 
he alfo is become, my falvation J !'* Amen. 

* Heb. i. I— 3*^ f John ill. iS« % Ifa. xiU s* 



c 6 _ JES" 



36 



SCRIfTURE CHARACTBKS* 



JESUS CHRIST, 



SECT. «• 



The humiliation and glory offefm contra/led. I. Hii 
miraculous conception — announced to the yirginMarj^ 
andtojofeph. II. His nativity — at Bethlehim-^in 
a liable — declared by an angel to Jhepherds — e^leiratid 

by a multitude of the heavenly hojl — enquired after 
and ptMJhed by the Jhepherds. III. His cbildhod 
and education — circumcifion — prefentation in the 
temple — tejlimony of Simeon and Anna concerning him 
— vifited by eajiern Magi — preferved in Egypt from 
Herod's cruelty — conducted to Naxareth—foon dtjiin^ 
guijhed for his fuperior wifdom — at tvuelve years (d 
age difcourfed with the dolors in the temple — dwelt 
infuhje^ion to his parents at Nazareth. 




JKSUS CHRISr. ^f 

differently* and have had, not a poor, defpifed, (iif* 
fering Redeemer, but, what the Jews wi(hed for, m 
temporal Meifiah, who fhould pofiefs fupreme domi- 
nion, dazzle the eyes of every obferver, by his pomp 
and magnificence, and conftrain all the nations of the 
earth to bow with unfeigned fubjeftion to him. It 
was other wife appointed by the unerring wifdom of 
God ; and, fo far from being oftended at the mean 
appearance of Jefus, we fhould contemplate wirii pro- 
fo^jnd adoration the gracious purpofes of it. 

Yet it is faid, "we beheld his glory ♦.*' There re- 
fided a glory in him, which his fpiritual people diC* 
covered, and which fometimes broke forth to the 
confufion of his enemies ; a glory ftir fupcrior to all 
the grandeur of conquerors and kings. Indeed, there 
was a wonderful contraft in the various circumftances 
which attended the Saviour's abode on earth : for 
the moft exalted dignity and the deepeft abafement 
were united in him. Such a MeiEah the ancient 

Jrophecies defcribe, and therefore fuch an one the 
ews ought to have expefted. They might have 
learned, that *' the holy One of Ifrael," and the af* 
Aided, fuffering McfBah was the fame Redeemer. 
May all our prejudices againft him be removed; and, 
while we hear of his coming in the flelh, may we be 
difpofed to receive him into our hearts, and with loud 
hofannas welcome his approach, crying, " Bleiled be 
He that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hofanna 
in the higheft !" — ^We confider, for the prefent, 

I. His miraculous conception. This, as well as 
fome other incidents preceding his nativity, demands 
our regard. We have already feen, that the provi- 
dence of God had made great preparations for him, 
and that the various predictions of the infpired wri- 
ters had raifed among the Jews a general expeftation 
of a glorious Deliverer. Thofe, who ftudied the fa- 

9 John u S4« 



38 SCRIPTURE CHARACTERS. 

crcJ oracles, and carefully obfervcd the ftate of their 
nation, could not but perceive, that the exaA period 
marked out both bv Jacob and Daniel for the appear- 
ance of Shiloh, Messiah, the Prince, muft be 
near at hand *. They were therefore, " looking for 
redemption in Ifrach" and at lad they obtained the 
objc6t of their hope. At the appointed feafon, *' in 
the fuhicfs of time," the Saviour was announced. 

But who was the favoured inftrument of bringing 
him into the world? It had been declared, that he 
was to be " the Son of David according to the flefh,'' 
and therefore that he ihould be born of fome defend- 
ant of that kir^ of Ifrael. But he was likewife to 
be the Son of God : for he muft be '* holy, bamilefs, 
undcfiled, feparate from finners f :" and, that the 
corruption of our fallen nature might not be com- 
municated to him, he muft be conceived, and his 
body produced, in a very different way from any other 
man. It was accordingly provided in the divine coun- 
fels, and foretold by the prophet Ifaiah, that ^* a 
Virgin fhould conceive, and bear a fon, and fhould 
call his name Immanuel %.** 

Let Infidels cavil as they pleafe, and ftrain their 
lity to invent objeftions to this fcheme. and 




JESUS CHRIST. J9 

rael had afpired to, for ages before *• Both (he and 
her expeded hufband were placed in a mean fitua* 
tion; but they pofiefled a peculiar excellency of cha- 
i;a6ler, ^nd obtained the notice of heaven. The Lord 
paiTed by the mighty, the noble, and the learned of 
the earth, and poured contempt upon all worldly pa- 
geantry, when he fubmitted to appear in the loweft 
rank, and to be born of fo poor and obfcure a perfon» 
Yet even upon that occafion, his dignity and glorjr 
were difplayed. One of the higheft order of the celes- 
tial fpirits, Gabriel, was commiiHoned to inform the 
pious Virgin of the counfels of God concerning her, 
and to declare the name and the oi&ce of that illuf- 
trious offspring, which fhe was to produce by a mi- 
raculous conception through the energy of the Holy 
Ghoft. « Behold," faid he, " thou Ihalt conceive 
in thy womb, and bring forth a Son, and ihalt call 
his name Jesus. He Uiall be great, and (hall be. 
called the Son of the Higheft; and the Lord God 
fhall give unto him the throne of his father David: 
and He fliall reign over the houfe of Jacob for ever> 
and of his kingdom there (hall be no end." 

Intelligence of this fupernatural effe<a, which im- 
mediately took place, was not long afterwards given 
by a heavenly meflenger to Jofeph the betrothed huf- 
band of Mary f. He had perceived her pregnancy, 
and, not knowing the caufe, could not but fufpe<^ 
her integrity, and therefore wiihed to break off his 
engagements with her. To relieve him from his 
anxiety, the angel explained to him her real fituation, 
encouraged him to receive her as his wife, and di- 
rected him to call the child, whom (he (hould bear^ 
by the fignificant name of Jesus, denoting his office 
as the Saviour, and the deliverance from fin, which 
he accomplilhes for his people. Thus Jofeph became 
his reputed father; for, agreeably to the divine man- 

•- Luke U 26—56. t Mat. i. 18-^25. 



4.9 SCRIPTURE CHARACTERS. 

date, *^ he took unto htm Mary his wife." But the 
conception was immaculate; as ^' he knew her not| 
till fhc had brought forth her (irft-born Son.'* 

Here, then, we contemplate the Son of God, 
'^ made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem 
them that were under the law*." This is ** the 
Seed of the woman," who was appointed to " bruife 
the ferpent's head f." I'his is « the Seed of Abra- 
ham," in whom, it is promifed, that *' all the femi- 
lies of the earth (hall be bleffed J." This is that 11- 
luflrious progeny of David, of whom it was declared, 
that " the throne of his kingdom (hall be eihtblifhed 
for ever ||." Peculiar care is taken by the Evan^elifts, 
to prove, that in this, as well as every other refpe^ 
he fulfilled the ancient predisSlions. Accordingly, St. 
Matthew records his genealogy from David and from 
Abraham, by the fide of Jofeph his reputed father; 
and St. Luke traces his origin not only from Davi^ 
but from Adam, in the line of Mary his real mo- 
ther §. 

Are we fuitably affedled by the myflerious truth, 
which we maintain, that Jefus, who was the Lord of 
David, became his Son + ? The conception of the 




^JESVS CHRIST. 

nate by the Holy Ghoft, of the Virgin Mary, arnl was 
made man *-'* Let us ftudy the fubje(5t, not with the 
cold indifFerence of curiofity or fpeculatioHj but with 
bumble and de^royt affe£lionSj till wc itc] the fire of 
divine Jove burn within us, con draining us to iing 
aloud with Mary, " My foul doth magn.fy the Lord, 
ar^d my (pint hath rejoiced in God my S AVioua t*" 
We ptocccd to conlider 

II- His nativity. AU things, it fiiould feem, were 
in a ftatc of readincfs and preparation for his intro- 
dudlion into the world, excepting one circumftance^ 
An ancient prophecy had determined^ that the Mcf- 
ftab iliould be born in Bethlehem ; and Mary dwelt 
at NiEareth, which was at no ffi»all diftance from 
it J/' How, then, fliall that fcripture be fulfilled? 
The providence of God can eaCly remove the greateft 
apparent difficulties, and, in a myfterious way, ma.ke 
all creatures fubfervient to his own purpofes- We 
do not obferve, that Mary contrived or wtflied to 
diange her reftdence with a view to the predi£lioii| 
for, probably, that was not attended to at the time. 
But the mind of a heathen prince, though he aded 
only from political motives, was influenced to accom^ 
plifli this eventc The Roman emperor Auguftus, 
became the inftrument'of performing the divine coun- 
fels II . For, in confequence of a general enrolment 
of all the inhabitants of Judea, which he had com* 
marided, they were obliged to repair to the phce, 
where the original inheritance of their families lay. 
Jofeph and Mary, then, in obedience to the edi6t, 
went to Bethlehem the city of David, as being his 
defcendants, where their names were to be regifter- 
ed: and, during their continuance in that town, for 
fo it had been ordered bv the appointment of Heaven^ 
the proper feafon of her delivery came. 

* Niccne Creed. f Luke i.- 46, 47. 

J Mic. V. 2. M^^ j'j, f, John vJL 42, fl Luke ii. I, &c. 

But 



^4 rCRlPTL'RE CHARACTERS. 

nu-p." Thofj finly will rtTiife to fing, who dcfjiife 
;iii . '::''r.A {\w nitVi of reconciliation with Heaven. 

W i...r fillet, t*\L'r^ fhould thefe " good tidings 
of /rc.'i* jijy" pi\>i!iice in vour minds? How did the 
ihi i' re's r. cclve them? They delayed not to enquire 
afrrr the ii- w-born Saviour; they went with haftcto 
Kit iLlH'in, wIktc they found the report concerning 
him t.i \w tjuf. The information, alfo, which hai 
aftor.i ■ -jd them, they communicated to others; and 
Xivy .ivv prail'e to the (lod of IiVacl, who had ma- 
liifJlt .i to ihem fuch peculiar mercy. — And Ihallnot 
yoii, who hc;ir fo frequently of the coming of Jefus 
Ch ill, (i'.Tirc to know him? Will you refufe to give 
an '.nn»cdi:itc atteivjon to themeflage of the Gofpci? 
Wii;it is there of equal imp<^rtanceJ Will you net 
examine, at Ic-aft, the intelligence which is brought 
you? I'hc fii'ih are fo well authenticated, that ihey 
^iil bear the nioft exact fcrutiny. 

if, like the (hcpherds, ycu are convinced of the 
trutii of the report, yo»i v/ill alfo diredl the notice of 
Others to this wonderful event. You wiil take up j 
your v/ords and fay, '' We have feen, and do teftify, 
that the KLt:.er hath fcnt the Son to be the Saviour 




JESUS CHRIST. Jff 

^nt afFe6lions of gratitude, love, and zeal, difpofe 
you to recommend him to others, and conflrain you 
to " magnify the God of Ifrael.'* 

In purfuihg the hiftory of Jefus, we confider 

III. His childhood and education. We are loft 
in aftoniihment, ^»hile we contemplate Him, who is 
<* the Lord from heaven," in all the weaknefs of in- 
fancy, requiring a mother^s watchful care, and car- 
ried in a nurfe's arms. He paiTed through the various 
Aages of human life, and experienced every infirmity,. 
to which we are fubjeft, fm only excepted. 

As he was " made of a woman,'* that he might be 
obedient to the law*, he fubmitted to all the Mofaic 
rices, and accordingly was circumcifed on the eighth 
day. At the ap"pointed time, alfo, he was prefented 
to the Lord by his parents in the temple at Jerufa- 
iem, and even redeemed, as the divine precept re- 
ipiiredf. He came " to fulfil all righteoufneis j" 
and has taught us, by his example, not to defpife or 
riegleft the ordinances of God, though, as external 
observances, they may feem unprofitable and vain. 

We have remarked, that the bleffed angels joined 
in concert to celebrate his nativity: and now we fliall 
perceive, that there were not wanting, chofcn wit- 
nefles among the inhabitants of the earth, whofe voice 
Ihould more publicly and more widely proclaim the 
confecrated infant. When, therefore, he was pre- 
fented to God accoi:ding to thofe ancient prophecies, 
** The defire of all nations fliall come, and I will fill 
this houfe with glory^,'* and " The Lord, whom ye 
feek, fhall fuddenly come to his temple ;{:;" Simeon, 
an aged faint, who *' waited for the confolation of 
Ifrael," through the immediate influence of the Spirit^ 
attended at the folemnity, and made known the event. 
He embraced the holy infant in his arms, and cried 

^ Cal. iv. 4* f Exod. xiii. i. Num. viii. x6^ jy. xviiir 
X Hiiig* ii« 7- MaU iii. I. 



jp SCRIPTVM CRARACtBRS* 

•ut, with the mod devout and lively fentiments of 
fritb, love, and joy^ ^^ Lcrd, now letteft thou thy 
fen ant cepart ia peace, according to thy word; for 
mine eye< h^ve feen tfav talvation." He foretold alfo 
the ditferenc ctFeds of his appearance, obferving, diat 
it would excite general oppofition, and, though to 
fome it would be the means of a happy reftoration, 
would bring upon many final and aggravated ruin* 
Another perfon, hkei^nfe^ a pious female, hr advanced 
in }'ears, contirmed the teftimony. *^ One Anna, a 
prophetefs, ccmine in that inftant gave thanks unto 
the Lord, and fpake of him to all them that looked 
for redemption in Jerufalcm." 

How much may we learn from this account! Is it 
not as necelTary for us, as for the ancient Jews, to 
look for redemption? And (hall we not feel and ex- 
prefs the moll ardent gratitude and joy for the reve- 
lation of the Altffiah? Though we are not favoured 
with a fight of his bodily prefence, yet, if by faith we 
behold his glory, we alio (hall fmile at the profpe(% 
of death, and be fatisfied to clofe our eyes upon every 
earthly object. But alas ! is not Jefus, according to 
the prediction, *« a fign," which is every where 
" fpoken againft?" To how many is he " a ftone of 
fiumbling and rock of offence!" Even to this day,.- 
by the preaching of his Gofpel, " the thoughts of 
many hearts are revealed;" for therein he affords a 
teft or trial of men's charadters and difpofitions. The 
humble penitent is comforted by the declarations of 
his abundant grace ; the fenfualift difcovers his own 
vile affedions, while he determines that he will not 
follow Chrift ; and the Pharifee betrays his pride and 
hypocrify, in refufing " tofubmit to the righteoufhefe 
of God." 

A further honour was put upon the infant Saviour, 
and his glory difplayed in diftant lands. A new and 
Twraculous ftar was lighted up in the heavens; and 

: may be allowed to confider it as an inucnation^ 



7ESUS CHRIST. 4f 

fhat "the ftar of Jacob" was then rifing upon this dark 
world. Some pious fages in a remote eaftern coun- 
try obferv^ed it, and by revelation, as it is reafonable 
to believe, underftood the fignal ♦, Immediately 
they took their journey, with great pains andexpenco 
to themfelves, to enquire for, and to worfliip this il- 
I luftrious Perfonage, who was born to reign over the 
Jews. They were conduced by the guidance of the 
ftar, firft to Jerufalem, and then to the very houfe 



3 



2 



3. 



J at Bethlehem, where the young child was. There 
they fell down before him with profound veneration, 
and prefented him with various oblations of gold, 
frankincenfe, and myrrh. When, by the divine di- 
redlion, they had returned to their own land, doubt« 
lefs they publifhed the advent of the Saviour, accord- 
ing to the information they had received, and pre- 
pared the way for the reception of the Gofpel amongft 
their countrymen, Thefe venerable fages, then, were 
as the firft-fruits of the Gentiles, and a token of the 
future enlargement of the church by the acceffion of 
diftant nations, who fhould " foon ftretch out their 
^ hands unto God f." Thus it had been predidled, 
** The forces of the Gentiles fliall come unto thee: 
the multitude of camels (hall cover thee, the drome- 
daries of Midian and Ephah : all they from Sheba 
{ball cpme : they (hall bring gold and incenfe ; and 
they (hair (hew forth the praifes of the Lord J." 

Are we not hereby reproved for our. neglefl: and 
contempt of Chrift? His manifeftation in the fie(h is 
declared among us, if not by a ftar in the heavens, 
yet by many credible witneflis; but how few enquire 
after him ? How few are willing to forego their eafe 
and intereft; how few, who would not grudge the 
pains and expence of thefe wife men, to attain the 
knowledge of falvation? Why are we not, like them, 
worflbippmg at the feet of Jefus? Why do we not 

• Mat. 11. i| &c. f Pialt Izviii. ji* % I£iuU. S«^ 



48 SCRIPTURB CHAKACTBRS. 

oiFcr to him, out of our treafures, fome mark' of oar 
gratitude and adoration? Why are not all our talents, 
and all our faculties of body and foul, devoted to him; 
for he is worthy to receive them, and requires them 
at our hands ? 

But) though fuch honours were done to Jefus in hb 
very infancy, a violent perfecution arofe againft him, 
and his life was pre(erved only through the diviuein- 
terpofition. The cruel tyrant Herod, alarmed by the 
account of theMagi, as if the newborn king for whom 
they enquired were to poffefs temporal dominion, 
came to the horrid refolutton of deftroying him. At 
firfl he pretended veneration, and a delire to worihip 
him; with a view to accompliih his murderous de^ 
figns. But the Lord God, who knew the hypocrily 
of his heart, defeated his intention, by preventing the 
wife men from carrying him any intelligence, un- 
willing to relinquifli his purpofe, and enraged by the 
difappointment, with an unparalleled barbarity he 
commanded all the young children throughout the 
neighbourhood of Bethlehem to be put to death. StiD 
Jefus was fccure, under an invincible defence; nor 
was it poiHble that the end of his appearing ft oul J be 




JESUS cftltist* 49 

"Vfefed marks of extraordinary abilities ; being ^* ftrong 
in fpirit, filled with wifdom^" ajid endued with " the 
grace of God'* in an eminent degree. We appre- « 
hend, that his uncommon^ fervour, knowledge, and 
piety, even in his childhood, excited the admiration 
of the neighboLPthood where -he d\^elt. We have but 
little information concerning that period, but the few 
circumftanccs, which are recorded, muft not be pafled 
over. 

• When he was twdve years old (and (o according 
to thejewifli cuftom was confidered asfubjedbto tbe 
•law), he went tip to the temple with his pious pa~ 
Tents to celebrate the paflbver ; and upon that occa- 
sion he ftiewed the moft zea^ojs attachment to the 
houfe and fervice of God. His parents and relations 
were returning home, while, unknown to fhem, he 
ftill remained at Jerufalem. After a painful fearch, 
they found him on the third day amongft the public 
teachers of religion, liftening to their inftruftions, 
and requefting their anfwers to his enquiries; and 
^y his profound underftanding in divine things exci- 
ting the aftoniflimerit of all who were prcfent. When 
his mother had exprefled her wonder at his conduct, 
■as having occafioned them many anxious fears, he 
replied, v/ith a zeal far beyond his years, ^* Wift ye . 
not, that I muft be about my Father's bufinefs?'' 
Yet he did not renounce his obedience to Jofeph and 
Mary, or defpife them on account of his own fupe- 
rior rank or abilities; bur., with all filial regard and 
fubmiflion to their authority, he went down to dwell 
with them at Nazareth. There alfo he continued to 
exhibit, with his increafing age and ftature, an in- 
<:reafing meafure of wifdo-n and excellency of cha* 
rafter; for his human nature received gradual com- 
munications from the fulnefs of the Godhead. 

Here, then, we have an example, which may be 
propofed to all ; the example of a child, which in 
reprove and fhame the -mod advanced in life« 

Vol, IIL D tfi 



JESUS CHRIST. 



:SECT. 3. 

• ... n: ohjl-urlty till bis thirUctb uer^ wben\ 

.* .« ;?iif:f/nyy for which hi zvcs trepan 

' i'^y-f/hi, 11. ly his fapn^^ HI. A* / 

. ■'/ wbiih ke Vidi Jtrgtd^ i, /; *«^.''"^ 

:. Ky'icn^ 3. to ambit i 57!. 

\\ , , V-. V -rifling anecdote of the cclebrati 

• -^ ■ .o-.iirv is eagerly explored, little er 

• • . »" w v:'.:i\T the grer.tell character, evi 

'■• '«».■!*!. We might fuppofe, that ci 

^' •• '» .';»;rjpt men to ftudy the hiftoi 

»* • ■'.'•.-: be not a proper difpofition < 

.■•■ .."iv.ition of fiich a fiiSje;f^j n( 

.' :• IvMhtlsficdin it. The ho! 

' *., /! t,> cr.uify our fubtle fpeci 

" ' . > ,*: -rty of queftions, which \s 



\\ 



• ** • •'* w.j.>xv many of the private cii 
'• . ; ' "V.^^^ions of the Saviou 
I , **•'*»,■:%/ \i[i]c or no informatior 
I. ' ' '■ '' -i xr.v I. J rgr proportion of h; 
•'■ -^^ •'••■*•< rwt^Ifrhnnd his thirti 
• ' , . ... \ ' '.''■' '• *•••" he was fubjeft t 
"* ' ' •''•■" •-^.iixcJ, he increafc 

*'••'•• ■ . J. .. "' x' '' *** ''''■^' *^'"*^^ ^^ ^" "" 

'"' '■"' ... . i...\.. / ." *^"--i:'. ..II that period h 

''", ''"'•' '•" »'• !u; V''' ''^'■^*'^^* ''™" the notice c 
'*'' ^■' i"»i*ljiiU * V" '■ '^•' ■»:*''•'. a town fomea 



JESUS CHRIST*. Sf 

aflred m a proverbial manner, " Can any good thing 
come out of Nazareth ♦?" There he pafled for the 
fon of a carpenter, and probably laboured at the fame 
low trade with J.ofeph his reputed father; for he him- 
felf was called *-*- the carpenter f."" 
' Jofeph and Mary, together with fome others, couW 
not but remember the fignal teftinionies, which had 
been delivered concerning Wm; and, from a view of 
his whole {pirit and deportment, they muft have 
formed great expeftations of him. Bat ffiU he was^ 
not generally known or regarded: no public difplay 
of his glory bad been made,, and even many of his re- 
lations were difpofed ta revile him J. 

What amazing condefcenfion is here ! He fjbmit- 
ted to this ftate of poverty, contempt, and labour^ 
and appeared to be of 1 trie benefit to the world, till 
he came to his thirtieth year, which was within three 
Qf four ycar.s oF his death-. Shall any of us, then, 
complain, that wc-are placed in a low condition, and 
appointed to a hard and fervile employment amongft 
thofe who defpife and deride us; and therefore, that 
our fphere of ufefulnefs is very contrailed? While 
~ we behold Jefus in "the form of a fervant," let us 
be fatisfied with our lot; rather, let us be afhamed 
0f harbouring a murmuring thought. 

The example of our Lord is a leflbn to thofe, who» 
are afpirin;^ to a public ftation in the Church, and- 
preparing for the work of the miniftry, not to pufh 
themfelves forward to that holy funftion, or conclude 
that their whole life is loft, becaufe they are not called 
forth to it fo foon as they might wifti. They may 
~ be in danger of being hurried away by an impetuous 
and intemperate zeal, ,though adluated, in the main,, 
bv the purcft motives both towards God and man. 
The advice to fuch perfons is, Wait till the proper 
fbafon; attend tO) and faithfully difcharge, your pre- 

* John i.-4f. t ^^^^ vj. 3. J, John vii. 5. 

D 3, fcxte 



56 SCRIPTURl CHARACTERS. 

maintained on both fides, as to prove an unprofitable 
and hurtful difputation, concerning the proper mode 
and fubjcfts of Chrillian baptifm. But wc addrcfs ycu, 
as having been, by this iblemnity, devoted to the fer vice 
of Chrift : and wc call upon you to remember the ob- 
ligations, which it has laid you under. By this facn« 
rncnt you are joined to the armies of the faithful, and 
are bound ^' to fight manfully under the banner (A 
Chrifl agamft fm, the world, and the devil, and to 
continue Ch rift's faithful foldier and fcrvant unto your 
life's end *." The vows of the Lord^ then, arc 
upon you. And have you not perfidioufly vicdated 
thefe engaaiementj ? You ftiould be reminded, that 
the externil rite of baptifm, though ever fo fcripturally 
sdminiftered, will avail you nothing, if you are not 
'* waibed from your fitthinefs," and have not now 
** the anfwer of a good confciencc toward God f/' 
Wc beliold a peculiiir honour put upon Jefus^ at 
the condufioii of the ordinance. The folcmnity vu 
cinfed, but he remained in prayer; and immedratelj> 
tvhilc he looked up^ the heavens were opened ovcf 
his head, and the Spirit vifibly dcfccnJed upion him> 
refembling a dove> perhaps in fhapc, as well as in Us 




JESUS CHRTST. 57'. 

to reverence him as "the only begotten of the Father," 
and to rejoice in his mediation, as perfeftly accord- 
ing with the divine will. The three pcrfons of the 
Godhead were here exhibited,. and their entire agree- 
ment in the plan of falvation was publicly declared- 
The Son appeared in human flefh; the Spirit refted 
like a dove upon himj and the Father, though he- 
alTumed not any bodily fliape, fpake with an audible 
voice, proclaiming his concurrence with the Redeem- 
er, and approbation of his work of love. 

If we alfo be felicitous to obtain for ourfelves a- 
teftimony of the favour of Heaven, let us learn^ 
from our Lord to cxpeft it in anfwer to fervent 
prayer. And we may be the more emboldened to 
prefent our fupplications in the naniie of Jefus, fince^, 
as we have feen, he is confecrated to and accepted 
in his mediatorial ofEcci The refidue of the Spirit 
IS with him: for " he has received gifts for men."' 
We niay rejoice and triumph, that the Father is well- 
pleafed in him, as our Surety^ and our Advocate. 
But are we likewlfe, as we ought to be, well-pleafed 
with him? Are we not backward even to crcdit*his 
declarations, though confirmed by fuch a fulnefs of 
evidence, and unwilling to acquiefce in his gracious- 
purpofes, for our falvation? Why do we not feel the^ 
moft ardent affe6H on towards him,.and fay,." This is- 
my beloved, and this is my friend ♦ ?'* Can we con- 
fider the work of mercy, which he came to perform,, 
the rich benefitsj which he beftows^ the excellency, 
and perfedlion of his perfon and diarafter; and theiu 
iky, " There is no beauty, that we fhould defire 
him t ?" This contemptuous difregard and rejedtion 
of him would betray an extreme bafenefs of difpofi- 
tion, which ..muft be utterly inexcufable. 

We follow Jefus from the banks of Jordan into the 
wildernefs, . and there behold him fubpritting, for a 

♦^ Cant, y; i6, f Ifa, riii. a. 

D s ttil 



CO SLP.iPlfRE CHARACTERS. I 

in-i.'.i icfs opprcflcd, and drawn up the more to higii 
;iiiJ. h'.'dven!)' things. Thcfe ends could not be aa- 
iwcn 1 in our Lord; but wc muft be ftran^rcly igr.o- .. 
r.iiit of ourfclvcs, not to allow, that in thelo rtfpecH |! 
wc liavc abundiint caufc for humiliation and felf- j^ 
denial. — Yet why do vvc talk of falling, fince moi ] 
men plead for, and demand, the f*ill gratification of 
all tluir fenfu.d appetites? 'Vhe very mention of mc:- 
;./.r.i:ion is laughed at, as the weakncfs of enihuri;:ib 
iiMJ the nuidntls of fupcrftition; while pri^f.i nereis, 
iMcinperance, and riot, ahnall every where prev:.l 
;iijd triumph. Few, therefore, can finccrely join \vi:.i 
;is in the collect of cuir church, and fay, '^ O Lord, 
ul:r) {or our f.ik.e didil faft fo:ty days and forty night?, 
v:iv;j us grace to uie fuch abftinence, that, cur flcfii 
i)Li:)g fulvlucd tv) the Spirit, we may ever cbev thy 
gi 'V.y moiions in rii;,hteouIhcfs and true holiiicls, O 
ihy honou; aiu! glc'ryT' 

Our Lcrd underwent a far more feverc trial in the 
iviiJeincrs, as a neccliary preparation for his metiia- 
torijl ofiicc. Tiiis will appear in confidcring 

It may juftly fill us with 
the Son of God afliultfl), 




JHSUS CHRIST. • 6l 

temptatron */' It occurred alfo, juft before he en- 
tered on his public work. The Devil direfts his en- 
venomed darts in an efpecial manner againft thofe, 
who are going forth to fubvert 4nd deftroy his king- 
dom.^ Yet even thefe perfons ftand in need of temp- 
tation, and will derive peculiar benefits from it. 
The^ will improve^by that painful difcipline, in hu- 
mility and tendernefs of fpirit, and learh to adminifter 
proper counfel and- encouragement to thofe,, who arc 
brought into fimilar circumftances of diftrefs. 

We may alfo remark the place in which oar Lord' 
endured the conflict:, it was " the wildernefs." No 
fituatlon, indeed, will fecure us from the aflaults of 
©ur malicious adverfary. In vain fhould we fly to 
deferts or to cells: we Ihould be ftill expofed. Even 
though we be employed in nieditation and prayer, as. 
Jefus was,, we are liable to an attack. Nay, retire- 
ment itfelf, in fome views, may give an additional, 
force to temptation.. Perhaps the wildernefs was 
therefore chofen for this fmgular engagement, in 
which the Fiend was allowed to exert his utmoft rage; 
for the very horrors of the fcei^e favoured his vile 
purpofe. " Jefus was led up of the Spirit," by the 
peculiar impulfe of the Holy Ghofr, wjth which he 
was then filled, " to be tempted of the Devil.'* 
Confident of his own fuperior ftVength, he dreaded 
not the combat: nor have we any real caufe to fear,, 
when called out to the fame warfare, if we depend on 
his mighty arm- for protedion and fupport. But let 
us beware of prefumption. Remembering our own 
weaknefs and the power of our enemy,, let us pray 
continually, " Lead us not into temptation." 

What could.be Satan'is expe£btion in making fo 
extraordinary an attack? Perhaps from the conqueft 
he had obtained over the firft Adam, he might derive 
a hope^ that the fecond Adam alfo would be baffled 

• Ecclus. u» X* 



62 SCniPTURE CHARACTERS*. 

and overcome. He drtermineil, at leaft, to make the 
d^rpcratc tiinl. His envious and malicious rage 
would not fufier him to fubmlt, without attempting 
an oppolition: ajid he relolved to vex,.if he could not 
dcftroy, his antagonilK Such like wife is his conduct 
tovviird all ihofc, who fight againft him under the ban- 
ner of the crofs. Their Itatc is fafe; and probably 
he may know it; but for the prefent they (hall all feel 
the efll'cls of his malevolence. 

We (hall remark the artfulnefs and fubtilty of this 
fpi ritual adverfary. It fliould teem, that he has fomc 
way of learning our inward tempers and difpofition?, 
as well as external circumllances, fince he generally 
propofes that objcdt or plan of acllon, \rhich appears 
molt defirable and convenient to us. How great, 
then, is the neceflity of circumfped^ion and prayer!— 
I'lirce temptations were offered to otir Lord ; exactly 
adapted to his fituation \ and they aiford a fpecimen 
©f Satan's general devices. 

I- Jefus was urged to diftrufl the di\4nc care. 
After his long abftinence, he iek the importunate dc- 
rna^nds of hunger, and yet pofTeFed no natural menns 
of fiipport. Then came this apoilatc fpint (can- 




JESUS CHRIST. 63 

fhfough adifclief ofthe divine faithfulnefs and love. 
Let us beware of fuchan attack, and learn what re- 
iiftance we ftiould make. 

h would have been eafy for our Lord to accom- 
pli (h what Satan propofed ; but he would not even 
feem to dillruft the care of Providence; and he has 
left us an e;caaiple of a firm. reliance upon God in the 
fevpreft difficulties. He replied, therefore, from the 
fcriptures, " Man fliall not live by bread alone, hat 
by every word th4t proceedeth out of Ac mouth of 
God *." Thus he has taught u^y to be moreanxioiw 
to obtain the divine bleffiiig^ than a fupply^of food, 
which of itfdf cans; adminifter no nutriment to the 
body. We fhould not dare to purfue any unlawful: 
courfe, or take one ftep out of the road of duty, for 
the providing' even of neceflaryfupport. Let us pre^ 
ferve our dependence upon. the God of heaven,, who^ 
in a thoufand wayscan.give us bread to.cat, or even* 
fuftain us without it.. 

2. Jefus was then tempted to prefumption.."The 
Devil taketh him up into the holy city" (in what 
way we do not enquire, nor is it neceflary to know), 
*^' and fetteth.him on a pinnacle of the temple." Here 
again the addrefs was moft artful: he would now per- 
fuade him, to prefiime upon his relation^ to. God, in 
the belief of which he could not be fliaken, to make 
an improper difplay of it, and. to cxpeft prote£Uon; 
without a fufficient warrant. " If thou be the Son: 
of God," (aid he, " caft thyfelf down from hence; 
for it is written. He Ihall give his Angels charge con- 
cerning thee to keep thee; and in their hands they 
ihall bear thee up^ left at any time thou da(h thy- foot 
againft a ftone +.'* Satan, we obferve, can appeal 
to fcripture, to ferve his own purpofes. But here he 
produced a falfe, becaufe a partial, quotation. He 
«initt£d to mention from the original text, ^^ in all 

* Peut. viij. 3« -f Pfal. xci. xz* 



64 SCRIPTURE CHARACTERS. 

THY ways;'* fi)r this oppoft-d his defign; fincc it 
teaches us, that then. o\\\y we may depend on God 
for (uir prcfcrvatii n, when we are in our appointed 
|.laci'. No fccurity is promifcd to chofs: who arc out 
of the way. 

In i!us inftance llkcwifc we bcholJ the admirsble 
wikloin of our Lord, wrciting the fcripture out of the 
har.ds of his ad.erlary, and confounding him with it. 
He replied, " It is 'written again. Thou llialt not 
tempt the Lord thy God *." We a:e forbidden, 
th'.n, to prefcribe unto God what evidence he fliall 
aft'oi d us, or to prcfumc upon his care over us in that 
line oi' conduct, which he has not authorized. Yet 
to this very fin the followers of Chrift are generally 
iifL'^ed. Indeed, they are in d.mj^er from the two op- 
polite extremes. For, if Satan be baffled in one pointt 
he will try another ; and therefr>re jt will be an ^ 
vantage to be apprized of his devices* What? 
though you be the chiidrt^n of God, and can maintain 
your hope in him: confider well, where you venture 
to fet your foot- He is not bound by any promife to 
comply with your vain wifhegi^ or to preiervc yoi/, 
where your proper duty does not call you. Dare not,, 




IESU3 CHEIET* 6j 

tijing, therefore^ to have the abfolute diljiofal of 
thing in Im own hnnJ^, he promiftt] to dclivci 
^c whole power and tiisgnific^uce to Jefus, gii 
tion of receiving an Eft of adoration from hinn 
daring the fcheme ! how dttefkble the falfliood, 
1 fupportcd it! 

ic deftgn of Sntan is the fame lii all his aflauItH 
c does not aJways avow or difcovcr it* " Fall 
I, and worfliip me,*' is in ciFefi the meining of 
► temptation. And, ah! how freq*ieiu!y doei 
cceed! He ftill continues to offer ** the luft of 
yes and the pride of life j" and thefe are the 
t which ihouflinds iax& with eagernefs to their 
al rum, *' Ail this," fays he, " v^^ill 1 ^ive 
" and thas he perfuaJcs men to barter a way 
confcicnces, and to fcrfake Ciod and his truth^ 
the profpeA of worldly advantages* But we 
d remind you, while you Jillcn to fuch folic stu^ 
/that you will probably be difappointcd. He^ 
bom you hearken, is a deceiver and a lian It it 
in hh pov/er to beflow what he promtfes, and 
you dL^fire to obtain. Or, if your hrgell wiiVies 
1 be gratified, your pofTcllions would ftill be poor 
:onteLnptible. 

t length the holy refentment of Jefus was roufed; 
while he let the tempter know tliat he under- 
I his real characSlcr, he rejecled his propofal with 
rrence: '^ Get thee behind nie, Satan; for it is 
en. Thou fhalt worfhip the Lord thy God, and 
only ihou fhalt ferve*." We learn, then, how 
pel the attacks of our enemy. We muft poflcfs 
tnnoft firmnefs of oppofition, and defpifc every 
of temporal advantage, which might induce us 
rpart from our God. We muft determine to 
uo reverence or obedience to any but Him j and 



Ueut. vi. ij» 



thet\ 



66 5(RIPTURE CHARACTERS. 

then wc n.all be proof agaijifl all the enticements d 
the world. 

The conflict wns cnJ^d, and the victory obtained. 
Sjtiin dt-partcd, yet only " for a fea^cm," intending 
on knnc other occi-fion to renew the atlault: and in> 
mtdiattly a con^p-iny of holy Angtr's came to mintftcr 
to the relief of JcfuF, and ta rejoice with, him on bij' 
gloriuus triumph. 

How replete vt'ifh inflruflron i^ this hiftory! It 
afFo:J*i a f^riking rcprefent^aiion of the powers the ma- 
lice^ and the fabtilty cf our adverfary, and the nanrr 
of that v.^arfare, to which wc are called^ You^ who 
foilo vv ChrifV, muft expe<ft to be conformed to bint 
in his temptation*^. An oppoliti on of the very fame 
natiire will be nude again ft you- Do not ftagg^r iei 
your mindsj when you come into the confli<bt; nof 
decline the combat, though moft fcvere, but arm youf- 
f^lvcs far it. " Rcllft the Devil, and he will flee from 
yf>LL*j" SL§ he did from Jefus* For this purpofe, be-' 
Jiden the other par^s of the Chriftlan*s armour^ " tab 
the fword of the Spirit^ which is (he word of Godf.'* 
Study, how yoLi may ufc this weapon to the befl ad- 
vantage j that you may be able to aiifwer and repd 







of vi(5lory to lus people. *' The God of peace fhalT 
I bru (ft S ata n u ntle r your fe et fbo rtl y * . ' ' A ngt Is af e 
I anxi ouily obfc r v f n 2: you r concj u*fi . I Ji i h e v j e w of f uc h 
r witneiTes, ^' iland faft in ihe fiikh, quit you like meti^ 
I be flrong f," and fooa they wtlj con2;ra£ulatc you, cti 
Maving obtained a glorious and cverbfting concjuefl:* 
K Bsic are not many unacquainted with this fpiritOiU 
P^arfare? If you make no rciilUnce, but willingly 
kompfy i;¥ith the folic 1 rations of S^tan, you may elcape 
llbme of the diilicuhies \ihich the Chriftlan folditr 
meets with. All msy feem to be peace with you : 
but the reafon is> the prince of darknefs holds his pa* 
hce in your hearts, and, while you allow hiai the pof- 
fefSoji/be will not difturb you. Hut you are no 
orhcr than his vaflils, ^^ led captive by him at hh 
will," We entreat you to arife, and aJTerC your li- 
berty; for to what tremendous consequences will a 
continuance in your prefent bondage lead you ! Cry 
mightily to God J chat he would rcfcue you from It^ and 
thus *^ deliver you from the power of darknef5, and 
tranilate you into the kingdom of his dear Son X" 



• Rcm# xvi. 20. 



-|- X Cor. xvi. J 3. 



X CoJ. i. I3» 



JfSUS 



{ 



m 



SCKIFTVKB CHARACTERS*. 



JfiSUS CHRIST^ 



S £ C T. 4^ 

ycffis tit tended en yshn^i mmtjifj^ — calkd certain ^JS" 
pits — weftt to a marriagt'-fiafl at Canity whtn ht 
turned wattr into tuine — celibraUd the paff^ViV fd 
ycrufaUm — purged th€ UmpU^^id u«r trufi himjiij 
withfifne prsfejf^d converts* 

It may be diiHcult to afH^ fo the various inci- 
dents in the hi (lory of Jefus their proper time anJ 
plicc ; nor is it of any confequence to our pUn< 
We fhall touch upon the principal of them, ani 
hci^rly according to the order, wherein they occur rcdt 
as far as that can be afcertained. But we attend not 
to any critical inquirieFj for fettling the chronology* 
Let us be moft anxious, while wc are ftudying the 
chara<fter of the Saviour, that we may know himj i 




JESUS CHRIST* 69 

.11 the wonders he performed, and that fulnefi of evi- 
lence, by which he prov>ed his mi/lion and dtvinit}S| 
le would have been univerfally defpifed and reje£led« 
lad riot an Almighty influence been exerted, by whicli 
he hearts of fome were inclined to receive and follow 
lim *. BTe might have commanded the fervices of 
nore than twetve legions of Angels; and therefore 
lis condefceniion was the more remarkable, in fele£l* 
ng a few obfcure perfons for his intimate aiflbciates 
md principal agents. 

After his temptation, it fhould fcem that he took 
ip his ^bode for fonie time, near to the place where 
John was baptizing, probably with the view of at- 
:ending upon his miniftry; for it is evident that he 
ippeared among his audience one day after another. 
Thus he became more publicly known, while John 
ittefted the miracle, which had been wrought at his 
3aptifm, and repeatedly diirefted the regard of his 
learers to him, declatring his high charadler and office, 
as the propitiatory facrificc, for the fms of a guilty 
world t« » 

This occurred before Jefus had begun to preach, 
or had attached fo much as a fingle follower to him* 
felf. But fuch a teftimony foon engaged two of 
John's difciples, Andrew the brother of Peter, and 
probably John the Evangelift (who frequently for- 
bears to mention his own name) to fix their regard 
on fo extraordinary a perfon*- — ^In the fame manner, 
many have been induced to feek the acquaintance of 
the Saviour, through the report of others, efpecially 
through the information of thofe who have truly be- 
held his glory. N©r do any feek in vain. He ob- 
ferves the firft motions of their hearts, when they iin- 
cerely turn to him, and affords them the moft gra* 
cious encouragement. He will even prevent their 
aenquiries, by reviealing himfelf to thepi; as he d' 

♦ Ncwton'i Ecdof. Review, p. 60. .. ^ ]o\m\« !&• 




f6 SCRIPTORI ClIAftACTfUS, 

the cafe before uf ♦ He m^kcd th« attcntioii of 6i 
difciples, who were watching hU ilef*; with groEt 
coiidefccofioii he invited rhrm to accompiny hm 
hcrnie^ and suJmittH ihcni tua fre^e and delightful iih 

tcrcourfc with himfclf. 

And who, that have obtained the Itnoiii Wre <if 
Jf^fuF, will not burn with a defirc to necommciiJhim 
to the Jif^ticc aikI tilfcm ol^ thcJr friends ? Hive we 
not a brother or u fidef^ whom^ throtigh a jibtnand 
failhful u^rtimony of our cXfcrieiKc^, me tn^^y inttih 
duce to the Saviour? Thas it %va% by the dcckn* 
ians ajid infiuence of Andrew, that Peter w« 
wrought to him, and immv-diat':'!y t-ikcn iiito hi« fcf- 
V ice, u nd c r a ti e w a n d fi gn i tic 2. nt mm t, t v cry v Jf^ 
tant met with a kind rcCqHion Uo^n hisn; nor \fill 
any at this time be rcj^wted^ whu fiiiccrcJj' apply m 
him. 

But ail his tlifciplcs do not come ta him m tte 
fame way. Some, we hjve obfcrved, owe rfieit 
know^ledgc of him, ztxd their firit gr^od imprirSonS 
to their comie^flions in lift/; while others ;ire c^ild, 
/fcot through any previous act^uaintauce with rdigious 
perfms 'fc^f *>V ^" immediate, tnd, as it wtie^ ?i* 



JESUS CHRIST, 7^ 

_^ It he feels the warmeft affedions of gratitude^ lovcg 
and zeal, and hnftens to fpread the inStiencc around 
_ ii i m , Philip was unable i o coi ita» n t he raptu ro u $ dc- 
Kght, now produced in his foul^ and withijig cjthen 
I be as happy as himrdt, he took the fij ^ opportU'* 
luity of teUing^rs friend Nathana^lj that he had hund 
'l€ promifed MeOuh, 
Here a diffncnt character is prefented to us. Na-* 
^Atnaelj probably, as a fmcrre worfhippcr of God, 
liikc many others, ** waited for the confolation of 
llfrael;" but, though an upright man and under the 
[Jicft impreOions, he was ft ill kept baek by the ftrenglh 
lul popular prejudice. He could not admit, that any 

food thing-, mvich lefs fa ilbftrious a pcrfon as the 
a^icur of the wofld, could arifc from the infamouj 
town of Nazareth t He was induced, however, by 
the iniJd export uUtion and advice of Philip, to exa* 
mine and judge for himfelf. On this occafion we 
admire the compaffion and tendernds of Jt-ius to the 
■weaknefs and folly of thofe^ who truly defire to knew 
him. Upon NathanaeFs firil: approach j fo far from 
upbraiding him with his ignorant and rafh conclufions, 
he exprefled the warmeft approbation of his intet^rity, 
and propofed him to the notice of others, '' Behold 
an Ifraelite indeed, in whom is no guile!" Such a 
declaration from one, whom he had confidered as an 
entire ftranger, could not but aftonifh Nathanael: 
and, being referred to a particular place ofr^tiremenr^ 
where probably he had been engaged in devout me- 
ditation and prayer, and where Jefus afl'ured him 
that his eye was upon him, an irreiiflible conviction 
broke in upon his mind. At once he faw his whole 
heart expofed to view, he felt his doubts and fcruples 
to be removed, and he acknowledged the prcfencc 
and the glory of the divine Saviour : " Rabbi," faid 
he, " thou art'the Son of God; Thou art the King 
of Ifrael." This honed and bold profeflion of his 
ijiiihohtii'ineJ a gracious ^ccepcancc. Jefus rcpWeij 



74 



•CriPTCRE CHARACTERS. 



1 



jc :, '.>;.' rcjiLl'.'itii. J the moft temperate conviviJ 
r ..!:::.«' Li's nltf.ctr.cr proiJne, a::d on this grour.d 



'.d 

:i: ■/ to mix with thtm. Our Lord's exarrplc 

(.!: ' '. -, iMJt i:iJ;.wci that we m;iv at any time gi\e 

. ■::..: ;: (:i.:.cc!',criiuiulge alight ard ciiflipated 

:\ r :t t'/.i;t i: may be right and expediejit on cer- 

. . 1 f\.ru r.«^ t(^ ii'c a greater freedom of converiaiion 

;:.:vTC«airll' with our friend?, than our general 

t- or V. :;:ic« nuiy allow. 

] .;- re v.:i- rnc circumftance, which added a pecu- 
11 ir riftic to th:s marriage, as it proved the means 
of (liipiayino the miraculous power, and confirniii^o" 
the chari;clLr, of Jl!u5. Probably, there was no afflu- 
tr.cc in the family, and, on account of this extraor- 
<l:nary ^^ueft, there mi^ht be a larger conipanv, than 
h;iJ been expected ; fo that there wa^ not a fuiriciency 
of wine. 'I'he mcthcr of Jefus reprefcnted to him 
the defect, hopintr, and perhaps intimating, that he 
m'glu fupply it bv his own divine agency. *" She met 
with a rebuke-, indeed, for fceming to dire6l him in 
any fupcrnatural operation, fince, where the Godhead 
was to be exerted, he owed her no obedience, and 
could not be fubjedted to her control *. Yet, while 
he declared that the proper fcai^^n for his interference 




JESUS CHRISY. 73 

prevent their recourfc to him ; but no fooner do they 
difcover a real defire to become his dUciples, than he 
meets them wth expreffions of his kindnefs, admits 
them to a familiar intercourfe with himfelf, and ^* fills 
them with joy and peace in believing.'* 

Let us, then, make the application to ourfelves, 
and afk, Are we " the called of Jefus Chrift?'*. It is 
of little confequence, comparatively, by what parti- 
cular means we have been afie£ted; but are we ith» 
deed brought to the knowledge and love of his name? 
Do we poflVfs that warmth of affeSion, that ardent 
zeal for him, which thefe young converts (hewed? 
Do we, like them, bear witnefs, " We have found 
the Meffiah?'* And are we ^difpofed to " follow the 
Lamb, whitherfoever he goeth?'* 

Spon after our-Lord*s arrival in Galilee, he and 
the few difciples, whom he had now attached to him- 
felf, were invited to a marriage; probably the marriage 
of a relation, fmce his mother and fome other of his 
kindred were there *. He was not inattentive to the* 
calls of fecial life, nor wanting in any offices of re- 
fpetS and kindnefs to thofe, with whom he wa§ nearly 
connefted. He condefcended, therefore, to be pre- 
fent upon that occafion, and to partake of the enter- 
tainment. Our church has inferred from this circum- 
dance, that '^ he adorned and beautified the holy eftate 
of matrimony/* Doubtlefs, he teftified his approba- 
tion of it: nor do his profefled followers prove any 
real fan£tlty in themfelves, or promote his caufe 
among men, by defpifing that inftitution, which is 
declared to be " honourable in all t«" The religion 
of Jefus does not require that morofenefs and entire 
reparation from fociety, into which fome weak, but 
pious, perfons have been led, through the fear of 
conforming to the world. They have made phrif-r 
tianity a.ppear with a very gloomy and forbidding af- 

* John lu X, &c« f Hcbt iuu ^* 

Vol. III. ' E 



7^ 



SCRIPTiniE CHARACTERS. 



I 



oi.diicl, but only betray their cm c'-'formity uponi 
comparifjn of th'.mf Ivcs witn his pertccl e\c-/:^'ncc 



"f nc niii:iprcf- 
tK.;t aJufcfs to Jic 



.taticn fccms to have iiiif;:. trom 
b.ide^rormi "* Lvcry ii.an at the 
l):-^inniiu (loth fci forti- go^d wine; and when men 
liave well drunk, then ^hat which is wcrfe; but tlxa 
}ia! '.(rpt ihc tior d wine until • o\v." This, however, 
d':rc;;bfs mtrvly what was ufual at entertainments, 
a:.d ha^. not aiiv necefTiry reference to that particular 
c'jc»»(:'jn; or, ;i<lmitting ti^at it had, it would not 
prove, that any -f the company then afTemblea were 
in a liut'j < f intoxication The word itlclf, rendered 
v/M.L i/RiNK, does not always mettn exccf* ; as it 
is j.pijlied by tne belt authors to cafes, wherein ttm- 
])'jra;»cc Wii> cbl'crvcd. 

Tliis n»'.iacle,l!kc' all the reft, which Jefus wrought, 
W£s del'iLMied to promote the mod benevoJent and 
lirt'ful purpofcs. That large increafe of wine was a 
rccompem c lo the mailer of the houie for his kind- 
iicfs and hofpitulily, and might be confitlcred as a 
token, th.it they, who receive Jefus and his difciplcs, 
fliali not Ic.fc their reward. It was evidently calcu- 
lated to dilplay his high char&Ser in a more iliuitri- 




JESUB CHRIST* 77 

rich wme to a refined tafte. In general too, he re- 
ferves " the good wine" till the lad: he communi- 
cates much happinefs to his people from the firfi, but 
the end will be moft glorious indeed; With refpedy 
therefore, both to his providence and his grace, we 
rejoice in his all-fufficient care and power,.. 

Soon afterwards he went up* to Jerafalem to cele- 
brate the paflbver,. a feftival of peculiar importance 
among the Jews, at which the attendance of all their 
males was required^ This particular obfervance does 
not obtain with us; but are not we under indifpen- 
fable obligations ta wait upon God in the public* 
means which he hath appointed ? Let us learn fror» 
Jtfus, then, to pay an exafit and punftual regard to 
all the facred ordinances. 

Immediately upon his arrival at Jerufalem, he re- 
paired to the temple, where a remarkable tranfadlioa^ 
-occurred. Among other profanations of that holy 
place, the outward court was grofsty violated, pro- 
. bably through the covetoufnefe of the priefts j for aa 
open market was held ir^ it, to the dhfturbance of de- 
iVout worfhippers. The fervice of God might he- 
urged in excufe for it, as the people were here ac- 
. eommodated with their refpeftive offerings. But 
Jefus felt a pious indignation at the fhameful abufe,. 
and fet himfelf to reform it. " When he had made 
; a fcourge of fmall cords, he drove out of the temple'* 
f the profane traders^ '^ and the fheep, ^nd.the oxen 5. 
and poured out the changers* money, and overthrew 
, the tables ; and faid unto them that fold doves. Take 
J thefe things hence ; n(iake not my Father's houfe an 
; houfe of merchandife." Such an interference of a 
perfon, who poffeffcd no human authority, was fin- 
'; gular indeed ! It amounted to no lefs than a full de- 
( claration of his prophetical charadter, and of his pecu- 
liar relation to God. In this view it will appear pro- 
per and confident, like many of thofe fignificant ac 
tions of the old prophets, by which as the mefieng' 

E3 



-78 SCRIPTC7RE CHARACTERS* 

of Heaven tbcy inftrudled and admonifhed the pe^ 
pie *. 

So uncommon an exertion could not but cxciic 
the public notice. His difoiples beheld it with fur- 
prii'e, but they faw in it the completion of an ancient 
icripture, which they confidcred'as defcriptive of that 
very fpirit, by which he was then aduated: "The 
zeal of thine houfe hath eaten me up f ." For,, re- 
gardlefs of his own fafety, he was concerned only for 
the glory of God in the due adminiftratiorf of his fer- \ • 
vice. Muft we not perceive and admire the power, t. 
as well as the zeal, of our Ixord in this extraordinary l- 
occurrence? For whence was it, that thofe, who \ 
were occupied in the merchandife, fubmittcd without i 
oppofition to one, of fo low a rank and eftimation ifi i 
life? They muft, doubtlefs, have felt not merely a ' 
confcioufnefs of guilt, but a fecret and awful dread 
of their reprover: ajjd this efFc<St we cannot but af- 
cribe to a fupernatural impreifion upon their minds.. 
By the very fame influence, the perfons, who after- 
v«#rds came to apprehend him, notwithftanding their ' 
mil ice and their iiercenefs, were ftruck to the ground 
before him. 

Some however among the Jews called htm to ac- 
count for this proceeding, and demanded a proof of 
his divine commiflion. The very action, which he 
had performed, was a ftrong evidence ; but probably 
^thcy wiflied to find fault, rather than know the truth* 
fead therefore of giving them any direct anfwer, he 
ied, as he ufually did to cavillers, in a parabolical 
lUier. *' Deitroy this temple/' faid he, ♦*- and in 
ce days I will raife it up/* This they underftood 
at; but afterwards, in a perverted fenfe, they made 
»: the gro»»"'' of a charge againfl- him J. It was 
oicant a' ecy of his own refurrccirion, which 

■' XIX. xxvii. £zek. iv. xii. 2^ch. xi* 

X Mark xlv. 58* 



jESirs CHRIST. ^ 79 

fs ^^ an infallible prooP' of his divine charafter; and 
•in that view it was recollefted by his difciples, to the 
increa(e and confirmation of their faith. Thus it fre- 
quently happens, that the very fame fcriptures, and 
Jhe very fame doilrines, which are an offence and a 
ftumbiing block to fome, are to others the fource of 
joy and coniolation. Let us look well, m all our re- 
fearches, to the difpofitions of our hearts. 

While MTE profefs to be fatisfied^ that Jefus (hould 
purge the temple at Jerufalem from profane attend- 
ants, let us afk, Are we fuch worfhippers, as he will 
approve? Is there no violation of the houfe of Gpd 
among oqrfelvies *y no irreverence, which requires re- 
formation? Is that holy place never turned into " a 
houfe of merchandife?*' Are our m-inds never em- 
ployed there, in (ettling temporal accounts, and it^ 
various fchemes of trade, as if we were in the midft 
of a market? What, then, would Jefus hy,, if tie wcr^ 
to appear amongfll us ? And let us remember, that 
•* all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of 
him, with whom we hkve to do *." We ihould 
endeavour, therefore, to leave the cares of the worlj 
at a diftance^ " that we inay attend upon the Lord 
iwithoiit diftraftion f.'* " Take thefe things heiKe,.'* 
for they are moff unfui table to his facred courts. 

Jefus, we have feen> publicly aflerted his high cha- 
rat^er at JeruJalem, and he had many adverfaries ; 
but did he gain no converts ? He fpake with an effi- 
cacy, which filenced at I'eaft, if it did not convince, 
his oppofers: but did any truly receive him? Many 
we're fo Aruck with his miracles^ (though thefe are 
not recorded) that they acknowledged him to be the 
Mcffiahy and profefled to Believe in his name. But 
they were fuch,: as our Lord perceived were not to- 
be depended on. There was fomething unfound, or 
Ihamefully defedive. in them. Either they yerQ 

• Heb. IV. 13. f i'Cbr.^vu» 35« 

1^4- 



So SCRIPTURE CHARACTERS* 

fulfe-hearted, with declarations of faith, love, and zeal, 
waiting only for an opportunity to betray him to bis 
enemies 3 or elfe, if fincerc, they pofTefled not a proper 
firmnefs and courage, and dared not to ftand forth in 
defence of his caufe. Even a friend, who is afraid or 
afhamcd to efpoufe your interefts, is not entitled to 
your confidence. You will not think yourfclves iafe 
in his hands; and therefore, from a proper regard to 
your own welfare and fecurity, you will be backward 
to trult him. Such prudence is indifpenfably -necef- 
fary, in religious as v/ell as in temporal concerns. 
A little experience will teach you not implicitly to 
relv on every profeflbr. You ought not, indeed, to 
fufpe6^ hypocrify in all, becaufe you may hive found 
itinfome; for a jealous temper is inconfiftent witb 
Chriftian love. But a cautious referve and circum- 
fpe^lion towards many of thofe, who difcover an at- 
tachment to the gofpel, are highly expedient to pro- 
tedl yoti from various fnares. This you will leartt 
from Jefuc, when " he did not commit himfelf unto 
thtin/' v/ho are faid to have '* believed in his 
name." 

Wc muft not overlook the reafon aiKgned for h\$ 




JIE^US CHRIST* Si 

There is no creature " that is not manifeft in his 
fight.*' If there be a Judas, a mere pretender to 
fandlity, "a ravening woU' coming in fheep's clothing^*^ 
let him tremble at the thought, that the eye of Jefus- 
penetrates through all his dijguifes. Or, if you want 
courage publicly to avow your real fentiments of rie- 
gard for the Gofpel, fo that you might eafily be- 
tempted to betray it ;• is not this a meannefs and in- 
con fi ft ency, of which you ought to be afliamed before 
him ? 

The general cafe is; many among ourfelves are* 
called Chriftians, and fay that they believe the fcrip- 
tures, becaufe by the favour of Providence they were 
born and educated in a Chriftian land^ and they are 
content to take up with the' religion of their fathers 
and their country. Is not this, the fole reafon, why 
fome are not Pagans or Mahometans? But is this the 
faith, which Jefus will approve? No: he will not be 
impofed upon by an empty form of words, with, 
which the heart does not accord. We pray, there- 
fore, not only that we may " have a name to live," but 
poiTefs "the faith of the operation of God," whereby,, 
being vitally united to Chrift, and abiding in him, we 
fliall produce the fruits of righteoufnefsj to the glory 
and praife of God. Amen.. 



•ES 



JESUS CHRIST. 

SECT, 5, 

yrfuij c&nfuhed hy Nic&demus^ declared to him t 
turf and necijpty af rcgintratUn — the sptret 
the Hcly Spirh^^the appclnUd mnbmi of diUt^ 
from cQndimn^it'i&n — and the difir^ntJiaUs mn. 
rn^Urs cfth&fi t& whem the gofpiiisjgnt^ 

We have not yet ffen any promifing appea 
«jf fucccf:, upon the firli opening of our Lord 
III Iky at Jerufalem. His ftrenuous exertions in 
ing the temple cuuld not hut excite ^ comn 
through the ciiyj and, though his claims wc 
generally regarded, many were at leall convjn 
his divine miflion by ihe mirades which he wr< 
Very few of higher ftanon gave any feriaus att 
that contemptuous Quefttc 



JESUS eHRWT. 83 

fore to conceal it from public notice, and preftrve 
his reputation, he went in the dark. But even al- 
lowing, that he was under a very improper Influence" 
of the fisar of man^ he wais not thereby prevented 
from applying to this divixle Inftruftor for informa- 
tion ia the truth. Our Lord, who never rejected or 
difcouraged any fincere enquirer, overlooking or not 
upbraiding him for his weaknefs, received him kind- 
ly, and without referve declared t6 him the moft im- 
portant myfteries of the kingdom of heaven. He 
conftantly fpoke with a regard to the circumftances 
and difpofitions of his audience, and opened the Gof- 
pel^ more or lefs as they could bear i% Here was 
no fcornful, captious difputant^ but an humble, 
teachable fcholar^ feeking direction in the way ut 
jrighteoufnefs. Here, thereforcj we (haU find, wiihirt 
a few verfes, a more dear and explicit reprefentation 
of the great fyftem of Chriftianity, tha:n in any other 
pafTagc, of equal compafs, throughout the four Evan- 
geliUs. It is recorded for our benefi:> and every par- 
ticle of it concerns each of us as much as it did Ni- 
codemus himfelf* May we, like him, be vviliing to 
fit at the feet of Jefus, and hear his words, " which 
are able to make us wife unto falvation!" 

How gracious and condefcendlng was our Re- 
deemer, in giving bis time and his company for the 
inftruftion of an individual ! The falvation of one fout 
is incoriceivably more important than all the mo- 
mentous affairs of mightieft empires, which employ 
the councils and the armies of princes. The mini^ 
fter of Chrift, therefore, who like his Mafter is at- 
tending to the fpiritual welfare even of a fingle per- 
fon, has a more honourable poft, and a better obje£l 
in view, than the ftatefman or the hero, on whom the 
eyes of thoufands are fixed. 

The main fubjeih of the conference with Nico* 
demus may be reduced to four: 

£ 6 L Tb' 



$4 SCRIPTURE CHARACTERS. 

I. The nature and iicceflity of regeneration. This 
being the firft thing which our Lord infiftcd on, we 
CO lie hide that the doitrine liw'S at the very foundauoa 
vi Chiiftianity. " We know," laid Nicodcmus, 
*' that thou art a teacher come from God; for no 
nan can do tht-fe niiraclo6 that thou doeil, except 
C-od be with him." Such an addrel's, acknowledging 
that Jcfus was a prophet divinely commiflioned, im- 
plied a dcfire of receiving inllrucSlion from him. 
Without any preface or apology, the Saviour began 
to explain the religion which he came to fet up, and 
with peculiar Iblemnity declared an entire renovation 
of mind to be univerfally and indifpenfably requifite: 
*' Verily, verily I fay unto thee. Except a man be 
born again, he cannot fee the kingdom of God." 
As if he had faid, '• Doft thou believe^ I am come 
from God ? Then 1, the faithful witnefs, aflert this 
great truth- Doft thou enquire af[er the kingdom 
of God? Be affufed, that none can be a member of 
it, who is not To to tally transformed ih his inwani 
difpofitions, as to become a new creature," 

The JewSj and efpecially the Pharifees, boaAcd of 
the privileges of their birth, as the defceadants of 




JESUS CHRIST/ 85 

We are aware, that much pains are taken, not to 
deny our Lord's aflertion, for that is exprefs, but by 
fubtilty and refmement to explain away its meaning, 
** To be born again," it is faid, is only a firong 
caftern metaphor, which implies a renunciation of 
former errors, whether Jewifli or Pagan, and a pro- 
feffion of Chriftianity. Let us try this interpretation 
by other paiTages* ** Whatfoever is born of God 
overcometh the world ♦.** And can fucb a conqueft 
be afcribed to every one, who is called a Cnriftianf 
We have continual and lamentable proof to the con- 
trary. Equally abfiird is the notion, that bapfifm 
conllitutes regeneration. This, indeed, is the out- 
ward fymbol of it; the water, which is applied to the 
body, fitly reprefenting the operation of the Spirit in 
cleaniing and purifying the foul. But ^^ whofoever 
is born of God fmneth hot f." And is this to be 
affirmed of every baptized perfon? Alas! how dif- 
ferent is the cafe ! 

It is faid, then, Aat ^* to be born again*' is to re- 
form the life, and pay an exa6b regard to the duties 
.of morality. This, we grant, is highly expedient and 
neceflary, and is an efFeft which will flow from re- 
generation, but it may be produced without it. For 
do not many ^ make the outfide clean, whofe inward 
part is full of wickednefsj?" But the change,^ of 
which we fpeak, originates within, and is properly a 
renovation of the heart, in which corrupt and carnal 
zffcQions are fubdued, and holy and fpiritual deiires 
and tempers are implanted. . It is, therefore, <' a ne^r 
creation," fo that the man is, as it were, made over 
again, not as to his body, which fufFers no altera- 
tion, but^s to the difpofitions of the mind : the de- 
pravity of his nature is rectified. The language is 
tnetapborical, we allow; and who ever denied it? 
But fome meaning was intended to be conveyed in 

f 1 JqIi&t.4« t T» tS. 5 % Lttkexi. 39* 




(iibilYizci it into norhtn^:- If Jdus dt^ftgnej oiilv to' 
mculcate an rxtemat refumifttiofi of concHi£*, m&I « 
ftguUriry of mnfitff, hr ufcJ i moft d^rk and imrj* 
catL- matincif of ext^re^en^ which perplexes railKf 
than Inftfu^* On i\m mttTpKi^tmi the m ct tpl My 
ie ^sbfurd^ and nil tlic foltmnity af t>vr J^f>r<l's adcirtlt 
h nirre trifling i /or be ha* rehclrr^d thitt obfeure^ 
which in nbin Vi^afds vvoulJ h:ive bi!^*:n e:BrfIy antkr- 
ftood. Had xhh been the frnfr, Niccxiemus woiM 
not hare in'otrde ret}; nrt would Je ft! & have Qioken of 
k as a myfterjotj* do£trim?. ^^ 

But if We give the meiaphof it* M] force^ rfef^lB 
a beautiful Gfthiiftency and grandeur in the p;ina«Tf. 
The Jewifli ruler was puzzled^ and betra)'ed his ig- 
norance of fp J ritual things by the foolifh qur^'ftion-^ he 
propofeJ* lijt many acute and lesmed men hwv^ 
iikrirwire difcovered great abfirfdity, by their object 
tions to the truth here advanced i and even anion^ 
ftich the re nova ti an of the foui ha4 been mtide u (^^' , 
jetS of profane fcorn and ridicule, Jetm^ however^ i 
replied only by repeatmg his former afiertion, and 
declaring the neceJEty of receiving from the H4^| 



JESUS CHRIST. 9f 

Whyfliouldl'be d?fl:urbcd about the matter, fines 
my conduft is regular, ray dealings fair, atid my tem-* 
pers amiable? You forget furely, that we all fpring 
from the fame corrupt originaK The* neceffity of 
regeneration arifes not from the peculiar circunv- 
ftanccs, in which fome men may be placed, or the de-^ 
gree of guilt they may have contraded, but from the 
degeneracy of our nature ; which we all equally par- 
take of, though. difFerent perfons may difcover it in- 
different ways. Whether or no you can explain thef 
mode, \n which the* effeAs- of the fall are traiifmitted 
to us, whether or no it may accord with ''^^ philofophy 
and vain deceit," it is imwied in our Lord's ,deda- 
ration, that, upon our firft entrance into the worlds 
we bring with us a carnal principle, which is oppo* 
fite to God ; and flirely the 'univerfal condition of the; 
human race is enough to prove, that there is not one^ 
who does not feel aftrong propenfity to eviL Thi* 
being granted, it follows at onf^e, *^ Wemuft be bom 
again/* 

Without fuch a renewal of the mind, we (hall re* 
ihain in a ftate of alienation from God j and therefore 
we can have no part in the Meffiah*s kingdom of 
grace. For, that being a kingdom of righteoulhefs, 
thofe only, who are changed into the divine lifcenefs,, 
can rclim its holy and fpi ritual precepts. Ncitihier 
^an we enter into the kingdom of glory, fo long ay 
we continue under the influence of '* the flefe," 
which is " enmity againft God." We are thereby^ 
unfitted for maintaining any communion with Godr 
he cannot admit us into his prefence with fuch a dif* 
pofition ; nor can heaven itfelf afFbrd us any enjoy* 
ment of happinefs. 

Of hofw great importance is it, then, to enquire,' 
Am I born again? Are my tempers and afFe^ions 
fenAified? Let us not be fatisfied with an external 
decency of behaviour, and an honourable condo^ 
among men, which, though highly beneficial to 



^O SCRTPTtJHE CHAIIACTII5. 

jc£l is myfteriotis ; for there i% a (ecrrt in it, wWi 
God hath thought proper to conceal ftam nit; wfiicfc, 
tbcrtrfcjre.j it is not needfvtl, rr perhap^i poffible^ fortii 
► to know. Is this urgcii ns an objc«£ik>ii? Reenl!f^| 
-tflut the doSrine was rr prtfcnttj t« Nicodemui itt 
thfs very lipht; for our Lotd laughc htm to e^ped 
the fyme dlfHculttcs in grace, i^'hich occur in cftt- 
tion. ** Marvel not, that ! fald unto thee, Yc m^i 
be born again. The wind blowt:th, vi here it lifted^, 
and thou hcarcfl the found tlicrcofj but canft not t?ll 
whence it conneth» and whither it goeth/' Thtii 
the Spirit a£ls upon the humtn mind, in % fovcrerc^a 
and tinintdligible manner: for we cannot direfi or 
coirrrol his influeiKei and, though we clearty dikm 
his effects, It wodd baffle all our undcrftandifigl » 
trace o\Jt and explain the methods and the rcaf^ns cf 
his operations. The fubjc!^ may appear tts be i' 
voived in fo many and great difficultiifs, that r 
may ftao[ger, atid wc may cry out vvftb l^cu ....:., 
" How can thefc things be?'' But if wc finccixlf 
4f:firt ijnftruftion, he, who condefcended to the ig- 
nnrance and prejudices of that « iriartcr of Ifrafel^^ 
will have ctwnpaffion on oar wedJcndl^ and " gulit 



JiSlTS CHRIST^' ^1 

afcended up to heaven, but he that came iown from 
heaven, even the Son of man, wh^ch is in heaven.*' 
He declared himfclf^ thcn^ to be in heaven, at the 
very momeiit he was converfing with Nicodemu& 
upon earth. And if we admit this account; why not 
admit, what is not more unintelligible^ the influence 
of the Spirit in regenerating and fanc^ifying.the foul? 

Jefus, having aflerted his own authority as a di- 
vine and infallible witnefs of the things of God, pro- 
ceeded to inform the Jcwifh ruler of the important 
bcnefks refuiting from his miilion: and hence We 
learn 

III. The deliverance of finners from condemna- 
tion through his- gracious interpofition. This doc- 
trine ihouid be confidered in conne6lion with that 
already eftablilhed ; for it is a part of the fame glo- 
rious plan ; and the one is as interefting to us as the 
other. The foundation of both is laid in man's fallen 
condition: for, if that coutd b« dijproved, the whole 
fyftem would be fhaken, and fall to the ground toge- 
ther. We are avjrare, that it is an ofPenfive truth, 
but we are compelled by the ftrongeft conviftion to 
maintain, that " we were by nature the children of 
wrath *i" and it is clearly implied in our Lord's ad- 
drefs to Nicodemus. For, while he opened the grand 
fcheme of divine mercy, he evidently argued upon 
the fuppofition, that we are in a ftate of ruin, ob- 
noxious to juftice. Thus, when he afferted, " that 
whofoever believeth in him, fliould not pcrifh, but 
have eternal life;'* did he not plainly intimate, that 
all, confidercd only in themfelves, without the remedy 
propofed, are liable to perifti for ever? From the very 
grace, offered through the Saviour, we infer, that 
the, whole human fpecies, without excepting a fingle 
inftance, f^and in need of redemption, and that there 
is fuch depravity in their nature,- as without reflrairtt 

♦ Eph, li. p 



92 SCRIPTURE CHARACTERS- 

V. ^.i!- :Mf.i!liblv I', ncm to final de{lru(5lion. "Gol 
[{.in II' >t h\> So! to the world to condemn the 
v»uill; but tha: 'vurld through him might b: 

fav!.'* Mow, w. . "oulJ have been the peculiar f 
ru-i\. «>f ijib arin^ to execute the fentence of wrath> 
if \VL' . .:vl not Jtfcrvc^l it? tT, of preventing the mi- 
Icry, i;iru .vhich v/c are not likely to fall? Let us 
fii-.r ilcoply 'iito this important truth, without which 
t!i'- V j i]yA .'.ill be no more to us than an entcrtaia- 
i: '.'. .'•» ly, -.vhich ir.ay farr.ifh ainufcment, but will not 
p:-. ij ..J ( ir fal villi OP. Are wc aftecled, as we ought 
lo hCf with a con^/iclion of our guilt and dinger? 
What plea can we offer in arreil of judgment? Let 
us thanlcfully accept the propofal of aelivcrance, airf 
Lii gc with our ofFtnded God the mediation of bis oim 
Sun, 

The difpenfation of grace i$ here fully opened to 
Nictjikmus. God is rcprefented as looking down in 
compaflion on our ruined race, and, through the in* 
cinniticin of Jtfai Chrid^ effecting redemplion. He 
inlerpofcd to rcfcue us, not through any view of me- 
rit ill u>, or the expeiStation of receiving a rccom- 
ptjice j but w*(i are taught to afcrtbc it to his own 




JESUS CHRIST. ^ 93 

l)y;an afl: of indemnity, but in confideration of an 
adequate fatisfaftion. The righteous characler of 
God is preferved and difplayed, while his juflice de- . 
'mands a facrifice, and the Saviour undertakes to an- 
fwer that demand. " Without (Viedding.of blood is 
no remiflion *;" but " it is not poflible, that the 
blood of bulls and goats (hould take away fins f >'* 
and therefore Jefus appeared for the very purpofe of 
ftibmitting to the death of the crofs, that he might 
thereby'*' obtain eternal redemption for us.''* Thus 
he declared to Nicodemus, with a reference to the 
peculiar nature of his fufferings, '* As Mofes lifted 
up the ferpent in the wildernefs, even fo muft the 
Son of man be lifted up/^ His death, then, was not, 
as fome vainly talk, an accidental matter; for he him- 
ielf predifted it, and fpake of it as the appointed 
ixieans of procuring our pardon and felvation. It was 
the end of his incarnation, and the obje£l which be 
kept in view^ during the whole of his abode on 
<afth. 

We rejoice, that he hath made a full atonement by 
his blood, and therefore we can encourage every 
trembling penitent to '* look unto him and be faved ;'* 
becaufe he is " the Lamb of God, which takerh away 
the fin of the world %.'' If the Lord God fliould deal 
with you according to the ftriftnefs of his righteous 
law, your condemnation would be jufl and unavoid- 
able. But the Gofpel proclaims mercy to all, with- 
out exception, who feel and deplore their own wretch- 
cdnefs. Refufe not the gracious tender, for " who- 
foever believeth — ^fliall not periQ), but have everlaft>- 
; ing life." To fuppofe, that your application to Je- 
; fus will not fucceed, is to caft a foul reproach upon 
him, as if he meant not what he faid, or could not 
' make good his own afl'urances. Give an unreferved 
.credit to his word, and plead his name in a confi- 

'^ HelK Is* %%• t <• 4« t ^^^ ^v* ^2« Jol^A }. 29* 



f)^. SCRIPTURE CHARACTERS. 

ilent cxpc(5VationorobtainIng reconciliation with your 
God. 

Lot us not trifle in a bufinefs of unrpeakable im- 
portance, but remember that life and death arc fet 
before us. Let us therefore impartially examine our- 
(clvc?, while we coiifidcr 

IV. The diftcrcnt Hates and characters of thofc 
who receive, and of thofe who reject, the Saviour. 
Our Lord infiftcd on this fubject in very folemn 
terms, at the clofc of the co«iference, probably that 
he might leave an awful impreflion upon the mind of 
Nicodemus, and that from him the other members of 
the Sanhedrim might be warned of their danger, if 
they (hould continue in unbelief. The miniiter^of 
Chrilt, iniilce mannerj fhould admonifli their hearer^ 
and draw the famt^ Hne of diiliniSiDn between them* 

Such as i\x th^lr entire regard on Jefus, and derive 
all their expectations of pardon and falvation from bim, 
v^'hile they '* abhor t he mfelvcs and repent in durt ami 
aihes" ^^c immediately received into the divine h* 
vour, however numerous or aggravated their iniqd' 
ties have been. Thefcruencc of the law, to which thej 
would other wife have bten expnfed, has now loft all 




JJBSUS CHRIST* - 95: 

How different the cafe of unbelievers! Poffibly, 
they may affume certain fpecious appearances of vir- 
tue, and pretend a high regard to morah'ty; yet, not 
being inaprelled with any deep conviflion of fin, they 
have no true value for the Saviour, and refufe him 
the fubmiilion which he rec|uire&. On that ground, 
they are liable to perifh eternally* Since feith in the 
Son of God is the only .appointed means of deliver- 
ance from condemnation, all, who are deftitute of 
this principle, whatever elfe they may plead, remaia 
under the fentence of death, indeed, without any 
confideration of their contempt and rejeftion of the 
Gofpel, as tranfgreffors of the divine law they have 
incurred the threatened penalty: and who ihall ac- 
quit them? Jefus Chrift " was manifefted to take 
away our fins;" but they can receive no benefit from 
that grace, which they defpife* Nay, this very cir- 
cumlTance aggravates their guilt, and not only en- 
sures their punilhment, but will increafe their mifery 
for ever, *' He that belie veth not is condemned al- 
ready, becaufe he hath not believed in the name of 
the only-begotten Son of God.** Unbelief, there- 
fore, is an offence peculiarly heinous and more de- 
firudive than any other, as it effedlually bars t|ie door 
€)f mercy. 

Various objeSions are urged againft this reprefen- 
tatio'n. . It is faid, that, while faith is infilled on, as 
the only point of diftimSion, the grand criterion by 
which the ffates of men will be finally determined^ we 
derogate from the holinefs and juftice of God, as if 
he paid no regard to their moral charafiers. We re- 
ply, that none poffefs any moral excellence in them- 
elves, previous to their acceptance with God on 
he terms of the Gofpel. But the grace of God pro- 
'uces a difference; and fuch a difference, as pfoves 
bat he a£b agreeably to his own perfe<^ions, both 
u^hen he faves, and when he condemns. This is the 
<(s^criptiou here giv^n.by our Lor^.himfelf. 

Simiert 



I04; SCRlPTrRE CHAKACTBItS*. 

while many of the learned Doftors and devpout PBa» 
rlfccs ;it Jerufalcm pcrifhcd in unbelief. ' VVc adore 
the iTiylUrious ditptiifation, and acknowledge it to 
he wii'e urid holy. " Even fo. Father, for fo ic 
ffe:?»fd good in ihy fight *-V Our Lord himfclf de- 
cluTvc to niauy, who were highly cftcenied amongil 
ntrj, '^ Tut! publicans and the harlocs go into ^e 
hi'!.:d;m of God before ^'ou t-" Let us- beware, 
thti!. ^icw \vc defpifc anv,, of the loweft chara£ler. 
•' 'i htrc lire laft, which 'diall be tltil t-*' Without 
r. rl.a ::g on othcr>, let us give diligence for our- 
{».:.>•, *-' to make our calling and election fure ^.*' 

Nor U t the great duties oii Chriftianity be forgvttcit 
or ^.•[iLiHeiV in an angry oontcni ion for feme of- its 
D'it.vard '.blcrvances. Wc arc called to "worfliip 
« 'oa tn fpirit and in truth." Let us unite^ then, in- 
t'lis one- or.iiid concern, and lay afidc our difputes 
.»sV)ut inferior matters even in religion. If others 
will maiiit*iin warm and furious debates concerning 
plicts or modes of worftiip, let us " excrcife our- 
kIvcs t;nro 2:oJiimrs." For, however attentive wc 
iMuv be tc forms and ceremonies, fo long as wc do 
not love asr bn^thrcHj, and ierve God wich inward if- 




JESUS CHRFST. . lOJ 

only on the grand obje£t of his life, the faving of 
immortal fouls, difcovered no inclination to eat, but 
Fpake of receiving a better entertainment, than what 
they were acquamted* with. His meaning was mif- 
apprehended, as if he referred to nodiing more than 
common food ; for even: the dSfcipIes were flow in 
their conception of ({>iritual things.. To corredt their 
miftake, he then declared more explicitly,, ^ My meat 
is to do the will of him that fent me, and to finifh bis 
work." Foreieeing that he fhould have a multitude 
of converts among the Samaritans, he rejoiced,, and- 
called on them aUb to exult in. the profpe£):, encou* 
raging them to labour in. the work of the miniftry, 
fttun the expectation, of an abundant and a- glorious 
harveft, which, would iiTue in. eternal life*. 

If we, like Jefus, are intent on the duties of our 
cefpedtive ofHces,. we may be difpofed, perhaps, on 
certain ocdafions',, to negle£t ourfelves.. It is not, in- 
deed, incumbent onus torefufe our food, but the. 
saufe of God ought to be much, dearer to us than 
our own neceflary refreftraent.. Whatever be our 
vocation, an employment is aflxjgned us by the provi- 
dence of God,, to which,, therefore, we fhould attend,. 
not with indifference^ as if it were a fccondhry mat* 
ler, but with the fame eagernefs and delight,, which 
we feel in gratif}ung our fenfesy, op minifteiiiig to 
the fupport of our bodies^. But do not many Tivcy. 
merely that they may eat and drink; *' whofe God 
is their belly?'*' How few enquire, what is the will 
of God i what is the proper work, which he would 
have them to Hnifh ? Though we may know our duty, 
do we not betray an averfion to it^ or wearinefs in i t ? 
Not fo the fenfualift, when. furnilhed. with. the. objedl- 
(bited to his appetite- 
Much of our Lord's addrefs to his difciples is par- 
ticularly applicable to minifters,. who are " labourers 
in God's hufbandry," appointed of him to fow, and 
ctsip> and gather in the harvcft.. Though. their moft 
E S^ ftenuoui 



I06 SCRIPTURE CHARACTERS. 

ftreniious exertions cannot enfure fuccefs, ftlll tliey 
mtifl be diligent and unwearied in cultivating the field, 
committed to them, ever looking unto him, ** who 
givc'.h the increafe,'* Nay, fliould no prefcnt fruit 
appear, it ou^ht not to be concluded, that all their 
p»ins are inerfectucil. Others may " enter into their 
labv>urs," and difcover the benefit in fuccceiling ge- 
nerations. The final harveft approaches, when they 
Ihall receive their relpcflive wages, according to their 
fiddity, and they will exult, not only in their ownfil- 
vation, but in feeing ihofc, \Aho, through their inini- 
flry, were refcued from fm and mifery, and conducted 
to eternal glory. Then, what anthems of praile, 
what grateful acclamations will be heard from every 
mouth, while " he that foweth, and he that reapeth, 
flr^ll rejoice together!" 

'I'hey, who are anxious to fave immortal foul?, 
will be glad to obfcrve the eagernefs of the people, 
like that of the Samaritans, in their flocking after 
Chriftj and, when multitudes are crowding to the 
houfe of God, they cannot help faying. Surely, this 
is like the white appearance of the fields, before 
the harveflr. May their pr^iyers and expeclatlons be 




ftstrs CHRIST. 107 

ner ; efpecialTy as that ofiriany others may refult from 
it! You, who are acquainted with Jefus, will re- 
commend him to the notice and efteem of every one, 
with whom you are conne(^ed. You will perfuade 
them to go with you to thofc ordinances, where he 
has difcovered himfelf to you, and be ready to (dy^ 
^* Come, and fee." Perhaps, they may be influenced 
from your report, to hear and examine, and may 
*' obtain like precious faith with you." 

Multitudes of the Samaritans, having credited the 
teftimony of the woman, came forth from the city; 
znd anxioufly deiirous to be confirmed in their de- 
pendence on the Saviour, by a perfonal intercourfe 
with him, theyfolicited his continuance among them. 
Never did he refufe to gratify the widies of Rich, as 
truly fought him, or to improve an opportunity of 
ufcfulnefe. He therefore yielded to their requeft, and 
abode two days, preaching among them with accept- 
ance and fuccefs. So cffe&udl was his word, that, 
though he appears not to have wrought any miracles 
there in atteiiatibn of his do<ftrtne, many were con- 
vinced of his high charaftcr, and profcffed a fincere 
fubjeftion to him. 

We enquire, thcn^ whether you have difcovered 
the fame eagernefs, which the Samaritans did, to cul- 
tivate an acquaintance with Jefus. By the miniftry 
©f his fervants in the Gofpel, he himfelf draws near 
to you ; but have you entreated his prefence and con- 
tinuance among you? We read of thofe, who be- 
fought him to depart out of their coafts : and fome- 
thing of a fimilar fpitit is manifefted among our- 
felves. But if you cordially defire him, he will not 
merely vifit you in a tranfient manner; he will make 
his abode with you. Many have borne witness con- 
cerning him, and, like the woman, invited you to 
come and fee for yourfelves. Have j?ou credit" 
their report? Or on what teftimony is your ft 
built? Does it reft entirely on the accoantaof odu 
F & vUb 



no SCKIPTURE CHARACTERS. 

While the chara^ftcr of Jcfus is exhibited, and in- 
fluhitable proofs arc brought, of his ability and rea* 
diiicfs *' to five unto the uttcrmoft,"^ is there one 
among us, who does not need, or dedre, his affift- 
ance? (.)h, the fatal bliiidnefs, and wretched llupidity 
of men ! They neglect and defpife the Saviour, to 
their own everlafting deftru6tion. But you, whom 
aiHidion weighs down, or convi£tioas of guilt ter- 
rify, behold the merciful Redeenrver, and fay, " Lord 
Jcfus, to whom elfe can we apply? Thou only canft 
relieve us." He is ftill the fame; and, though at a 
dirtrmce, he can inftantly remove your complaints. 
His bodily prefence is not neccflary: He can fpeak 
the word, and your health (hall be rellored, your 
peace 0f mind cftabliflied. Only believe his own 
gracious declarations: Go yonr way,expeding \diat 
he h;ith promifed, and, according to your fjaith, ta 
ihall it be done uuto you.. 




JESUS CHRIST. 



SECT. ^. 



y^fus returned to Galilee-Breached at Nazareih-''^^ 
raculoujty efcaped — dwelt at Capernaum — wrought^ 
v<<rious mlraclifS'^rofe early^^took a circuit round 
Galilee — called four difcipleSy after a miraculous 
draught offjbes. 

An inhabitant like this, the worM never (aw either 
before or fince. Every view of him, during his abode 
on earth, not only furniflies inftrudliony but excites 
amazement. Each part of his life is a proJT of his 
own afTertion, and a linking comment on what he 
faid, ^^ My meat is to do the will of Hrni that fent 
me, and to finifh his work^*»** While we obferve 
his aftivity, may we feel the force of his example, as 
an incentive to diligence? And as we perceive with 
what ftrength of evidence his Iwgh charaSer and di- 
vine miflion were difplayed, may our feith and hope: 
in him abound more and more!' 

Wherever he travelled, he appeared as no com- 
mon perfon : both the doftrines he delivered, and the 
inirades he wrought, proved inconteftably, that he 
was more than sin ordinary prophet, and no lefs than 
the Saviour of the worlds *' God 4vcr all^ blefled fojg 
evcr/^ 

•! John W.. 34» . 



ri2 SCRIPTURE CHARACTERS. 

** He returned in the power of the Spirit into Ga* 
lilcc ^ :" being anointed to his office by the HoW 
Cihofly by the fame undlion he was dirc£led, affifte4 
and comforted in the execution of it. ** The power 
of the Spirit" fo accompanied hii^ miniftrations, as 
to carry a forcible conviction to the minds of others- 
^ There went a fame of him through all the region 
round about : and he taught in their fynagogues, be- 
ing glorified of all." We (hall not wonder, that he 
engaged the general attention of the neighbourhood, 
if we take a view of his conduct, and the circum- 
(hinces which occurred, during his firft circuit round- 
Galilee. 

" He came to Nazareth/' which had been the 
place of his education, and his principal rcfidence till 
he entered on his public miniftry. He had declined 
going thither for fome time after his vifit at Jerufa* 
lem, and turned afide to the other parts of Galilee,, 
on account of the prejudices, which his townfmen 
entertained againft him. He himfelf teftified, that 
*' a prophet liath no honour in his own country:**^— 
thofc, who have known him in his childhood, or lived 
with him on terms of intimacy, in a lower. Situation,, 




JfEStrt CHRIST. 113 

bis Gofpd to be deterred from declaring the truths 
though they have to combat with very ftrong preju- 
dices* Neceflity is laid upon them> and they mud: 
deliver their meffage, whejther men will hear, or whe- 
ther they will forbear. 

Upon his arrival at Nazareth,. ** he went, as his 
cuftom was, into the (ynagogue on the Sabbathday*" 
At Jerufalem only^ in the temple, facrifices were of- 
fered, and the Mofaic rites obferved. But in almoft 
every town and village fynagogues were erefted, like 
our parifh churches, for public worihip, for prayer 
and praife^for reading and expounding the fcriptures. 
To them our Lord reforted,. whenever he had op- 
portunity; fo that he may be propofcd as a pattern of 
a diligent attendance on religious inftltutions» But 
do all his profeffed followers copy after him? Is it 
their cufl:om> their habitual praSice, to frequent the 
boufe of God ? Is there any excufe to be urged for 
their negledl of it, which will bear examination ? If 
Jefus thought it right to be a conftant worfliipper in 
JewiHi aflemblies,. who ihall defpife or tura awajr 
from Chriilian ordinances? Who fliall fay, thai he 
has no need of prayer and the word of God^ fince 
Jefus himfelf paid fuch regard to them? 

One particular peribn prefided over each of thefe 
places, called " the Ruler," who dire£ted the fer- 
vice, and had- a power of appointing any man,^ feri- 
oufly difpofed and properly qualified, to officiate in it.. 
Accordingly, upon the appearance of Jefus in the iy- 
nagogue at Nazareth,, he was defired to read ; and 
what was probably a leflbn iur the day, furniihed him 
with a fuitable text for his firil fermoa among them. 
The attention of the congregation was fixed upon 
bim, while they heard him repeat thofe remarkable 
words, " The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, becaufe 
he hath anointed me to preach the Gofpel to the 
poor: he hath fent me to heal the broken-hearted, to 
preach deliverance tathe captivesi and recovering of 

ffght 



114 



•(RirrURE CHARACTERSr. 



fiL',hr to the hVw.dy to fet at liberty them that are 
briiir'.ci, to pre.ich ihc acceptable year of the Lord*." 
Tlic j>.ifra; t? coiitcfn-dly dcfcribed the office of their 
cxpL'v5l;.*cl Mcfliiih; and, while they were anxious to 
kn )w v/li.it applicjtion he woii'J make of it, he fo- 
Icmr.ly diclarcri.. that it xsas fuifillcd in himftlF. 

Thr co!Tjp!c:ion of the prophecy affords ftrong 
confolMtioii t.) us. Wc :ire t.-> regard Jefus, as he is 
h'.re exhibited, the anointed of God, fent from above, 
briii'Mn^ with hi:ii the craciouR offers of pardon for 
the ^uiit}', peace for the miferable, and falvaticnfor 
thnfi', •"' who are ready to perifli." In this repre- 
fentaii'^n thu fiTifui, depraved, and helplefs condition 
of man i<i clcarlv implied; and the bJeffings of rc- 
d/mptioi are frrciy propof.d to the acceptance ofalJf 
who t'vi] and lament the melancholy truth. If we 
pride ourlclvc^ on any fancied goodricrfs or ability of 
our own, we grofsly miftake our cafe, we overlooic 
th;* grjnd nt-culiaritics of the Gofpel, nor can we rc- 
ci-ivt: tliofc important benefits, \vh ch Jefus came to 
bvidow. fie gives wifdnm to the ignorant, riijhte- 
oufhrfs to t!ic guilty, fainRification to the impure, 
and rc(!.'mpfion to the miforable captive. But he 







JESUS CHRIST. IT5 

the dread of God's difpleafurc, you cry out, " Thy 
rebuke hath broken my heart ?" Jefus is comnkif- 
floned to adminider fui table and adequate relief. He 
will " bind up your wounds, pouring in oil and 
vfine:" ar^l he will continue his kind attentions to 
you, till the cure be perfefted. It is his peculiar of- 
fice " to heal the broken-hearted." 

Do you fear, that the fcnteivce of condemnation is 
gone forth againft you, and that you are detained as 
•* prifoners" in the hands of divine juflice? Such, 
indeed, is your natural ftate; nor is there any efcape 
poffible, \>ut by the gracious interpofition of Jefus. 
He grants " deliverance to the captives,** cancels the 
fentence, and proclaims a full forgivenefs. Or, do 
you bewail your fpiritual bondage, under the oppreG- 
iion of thofe enemies, to whom you have long been 
fubje£^, and who are too ftrong for you? On this 
account alfo, we would direct: your regard to Jefus, 
who alone can refcue you from this mifcrable fervi- 
tude. He calls upon you to aflert y©ur freedom : for 
" he fays to the prifoners, Go forth i to them that are 
in darknefs, She^v yourfelves*." 

You are diftrefied, perhaps, by your extreme ig- 
norance in divine things, and lament that all appears 
darknefs and confufion to your minds. It may be, 
that you had conceived highly of your own difcern- 
ment; but now you arc free to confef^, that you are 
fpiritually " blind.'* It is a happy change. While 
you fold, " ^Ve fee,'* you would have fpurned at the 
propofal of any one, to open your eyes. Now you 
cannot but welcome the Saviour, who " recovers the 
fight;" and exhorts you to ^^ anoint your eyes with 
eye falve, that you may fee f." 

Yet, after various ftruggles and painful conflifls, 
your diftrefs may probably increafe, if no ftinfible de- 
liverance be wrought for you j and every attempt ta 

* Ifa. sllz. 9.^ -( Rev* iit. if.. 

fffXDk 



ft 6 SCRJPT0R* CHARACTERS. 

gain your liberty may make your chains tbfr mefe 
gaJliiig and infupportable- You arc, therefore, fitly 
defcribetl, as being '^ bririfcd" with your fettcn* 
But, though you are heavily opprefled, and imabiew 
extricate yourfdves, your cafe is not dcfperate* Jefus 
appears with a powerfyl arm, which ftiall be exerted 
in your behalf. He not only gives you permiflSon D) 
go forth, but he himfcif will *^ break your bands m 
fundtr," relcafe you frotn the bondage of the worl4 
the flefli, and the Devil, and *' make you free ifl* 
deed*/' 

Should the defponding fear arifc, Wg have fmweti 
Co long aud fo prefumptuouflvt that mercy cannot 
now be extended to us ^ the time of grace may Be 
expired: this great Prophet of our God wlIL quirt 
your apprehenfions, while he " preaches the accept- 
able year of the Lord." In his name we can aiTurt 
you, that, if you return to your offended God, you 
ihall all Hnd a favourable reception* He waits to^ 
pj^rdon and to blefs you^ Thii is the happy feafoni 
prefigured by the ancient jubilee: the proclamad<M 
of the Gofpelj like the joyful found of the trumpet 
the Ifraelites, declares, that your debt 




JESUS CHRIST* Iiy 

cavil at the meannds of bis birth and extradion. He 
knew what was in their hearts, and addrefled him- 
felf, probably, with a particubr reference to their very 
thoughts concerning him. He gave them to under- 
hand, that he was aware of their oUedions to his 
family and education, and that he expeSed they would 
demand from him the lame miraculous €q;>erations, as 
he had wrought at Capernaum. But he warned them 
not to reje3 the evidence, offered to themfelves, 
while he maintained, that God, as a fovereign Ar- 
biter, is not accountable to any one; and that he has 
a right to difpenfe his favours, as he pleafes. Ac^ 
cordingly, many perifli, who are plac«l in the moft 
advantageous circumftances; and mercy is extended 
to others at a diilance, whom we (hould not have 
thought of. Thus he obferved to them, that a poor 
Gentile widow was relieved by Elijah, while many 
ividows in Ifrael were left to mffer all the feverities 
of the famine*.^- -a ftranser and an enemy to Ilirael 
was cured c£ his leprofy oy Eiiflia, thou^ the fame 
dreadful difeafe continued to prey upon many others, 
in the very countrv and under the immediate notice 
of the prophet. He intimated, then, that the grace 
of the Gcfpel might be fent to fbme remote king* 
dom, even among the heathens, and that they them- 
felves might never experience die bleffing, but be de* 
firoyed through their unbelief. 

This was moi« than they could bear: ^' they were 
filled with wrath :" and the violence of their conduA 
loon difcovered the enmity of dieir hearts. Without 
regard to the day, the place, or the (ervice, they rofe 
up in the utmoft confiifion; and, with murderous 
rage having thruft him out of their city, they were 
on the very point of caftii^ him down from a high 
precipice. But Itts hour was not vet come: 
fchenses could prevail to take awtyliis lift^ t 
was pleafed to nefign it: and Ai 
power was exerted to CQfliiMIF 



Il8 SCniPTCIlE CHARACTF.ns. 

their prifoncr efcaped out of their bajidS| before tiisj 
uxre aware* 

Ah ! fotjli{h people and uuwifc^ who fo raflily re- 
jected tlie Saviour! We might be conftravned to 
weep over their fad cafe: but it will become us ra- 
ther to be anxiou/ly concerned for ourfelves. What 
reception does Jdlis mc::t with amangft u?^? HiS 
Oofpel excites the admiration of many, who know 
no more of it than the Nazarenes- They foon bcgia 
to cavilj and urge a variety of objedtions. It U in 
vain to anfwer: nay^ perhaps^ the moft temperate 
reply may increjife their violence; nor would it be 
ftJrpri fing, if the miivifters of Chrift, like their Lord 
and Mailer, fhould be driven away with contempt 
and abhorrence* Ah ! what availed it to live at Na- 
zareth, to be near to Jefus, to obferve his holy con- 
dufl, and hear his gracious words? Or what avails it 
now, to be placed within the notice of the moft ex- 
ct^llent pcrfons, and under the moft livelv ordinances 
of religion? Even in fuch circumftances, you maj 
fee] a vehement hatred of the truth. But beware; 
whilft you endeavour Co get rid of that .which gi^es 
^■eCiing your beft mercies^ anJ 




JESUS CHRIST. 119 

ivoik, bat vigoroufty purfued it in another. The 
fame line of conduft he prefcribed to his Apoftlcs; 
" When they perfecute you in this city, flee ye into 
another *." I'hus, alfo', fliould his minifters in every 
age be zealous, diligent, and perfevering in their ex. 
ertions for the benefit of fouls. Inftead of being 
Jifcouraged by oppofition, they fliould renew their 
endeavours; and, though prevented from doing it 
among certain perfons, whofe welfare they anxioufly 
defire, in ditFerent fituations they may be more fuc- 
cefsful- 

What reception, then, did our Lord meet with at 
Capernaum? There were the moft favourable and 
promifmg appearances: " They were aftoniihed at 
his dodlrine; for his word was with power." It is 
probable, that much and important good was effect- 
ed : for we are told, that upon this occafion was ful- 
filled the prophecy of Ifaiah, " The people which fat 
in darlcnefs faw great light ; and to them, which fat 
in the region and fhadow of death, light is fprung 
up t." Happy, happy people, who gladly received, 
what others contemptuoufly rejected j — who knew 
the time of their vifitation, and upon whom " the 
Sun of righteoufnefs" fhone with fuch abundant 
fplendourl Let us blefs God, that our land alfo, which 
was once " the region and (hadow of death," hath 
■feen a great light, and that we now enjoy the meri- 
dian luiire of a Gofpel day. Let us net be fatisfied, 

however, to live in a Chriftian country, but be foli- 
,citpus to experience the faving efficacy of divine truth, 

which is preached and profef&d among us. For this 
.purpofe, let us ferioufly attend to the. dodtrine of 
• Chrift. Though we have not his perfoiial Aiiniftry, 
, he ftill fpeaks to us by his faithful fervants ; and w^ 

are not afraid to aiTert, that in numerous inftances, 

how weak and unworthy foever the inftrument may 

^ Mat. X* 23. *)> M«t* i?« x6« Ifiu ix. i| 8< 



120 SCHIPTtrRB CHARACTE1t]!« 

!>e, ^^ his word is with power." O for die fiured 
influence of the Spirit, to api^y it with energy to our 
hearts 1 

If we accompany -our Lord, we (hall perceive hnn 
difplaymg his high ^hara6ter by the various mifacles, 
which -he performed in that neighbouriiood. He de» ■ 
nied to the men of Nazareth, on account df their 
violent prqudices, thofe clear and ftron? evidences, 
which he afForded to the inhabitants of Capernaum. 
This, indeed, is agreeable to his ufual procedure^ 
To humble and fincere enquirers, he is pleafed to 
give advantages and opportunities for attainine di- 
vine knowlec&e, i^ch he juftly and wifely withholds 
from others. Let us be iaimful according to the light 
we have^ and he will eftaUiih us more and more in 
the belief and love of the truth. 

While Jefus was teaching in the fynaeogue at Ca* 
pernaum, a poor tinhappy creature, uncwr the influ- 
ence of an evil fpirit,. miierably tormented, cried out 
aloud in the aflembly, ^ Let us alone ; what have we 
to do with thee, thou Jefus of Nazareth? Art thott 
come to deftroy us? I know thee who thou art, the 
Holy One of Cjod." This was a ftrildng conf^fon, 
perhaps unwillingly made by the Devil through an 
imprefSon of terror, or elfe intended to bring the cha- 
racter of Chrift into fufpicion, as if he were reaUy 
confederate with wicked demoas, and fo to lay a 
foundation for that objedHon, <^ He cafteth out devils 
through the prince of the devils •.'* 

To (hew that be viranted not a teftimony of fudi a 
kind, he rc^e£ted it with abhorrence, commanding 
the evil fpirit to be filent and to come out of die man. 
Immediately at his word, the wretched fufFerer. after 
feeing violently convulfcd, was perfeftly reltored. 
No wonder, ^at a general amazement took places 
wlien Jefus appeared fo decidedly fuperior to die 



5€Sir5 CHRIST. IW 

powers of darknefsj and th^c the fame of Co fjngular 
a chtrafter was fpread abroad through all the couiii- 
try. 

The cafe of thofe, who were pofTefled, has heeii the 
fubjc^ of much enquiry and no little controvofy* 
Many would txplain away the itiftuejice of Sataiv 
atid even deny hrs very beings and therefore they re- 
prefent this pofTcilion as nothing more than a com^ 
mon difeafe. But the dcfcrfptions, given in the New 
Teflamciit, feem utterl]!^ inconfiilent with fych m 
interpret3tion; as the evil fpints wcrcfpoken to, znd 
returned anfwcrs, diftinft from the pcrfons them- 
fdTCS* and ftrrcral circumftances attending them caa 
never be accounted for by any natural difordcr what- 
ever. Sureiy, there will be no inconfiftency in allow- 
ing, according to the literal ftnfe of the fcripturcs, 
that the devils were permitted to excrcifc an extra-^ 
ordinary power over the human body in many in- 
ftanccs. Though we read or hear not of fuch cafe* 
in other periods of hiftory^ they might be fuflPered at 
that time, in order that the character of Chrift, as 
our great Deliverer, and his complete visStory and 
triumph over the prince of darknefs^ might be more 
clearly exhibited. 

We perceive the malice of Satan^ who is diipofcd 
to make ufe of every method, to harafs and torment 
us; and we are thankful, that his rage is retrained. 
But, though he praftife not fuch afts of violence, as 
fomieriy, upon the animal frame, does he therefore 
exert no influence, which is to be dreaded? Alas! he 
has yet fo ilrong an afcendency over the minds of 
men, that many " are taken captive by him at his 
will *." With a deftruftive efficacy, ** he now 
worketh in the children of difobedience f." But we 
behold with love and admiration the divine Redeemer 
enter the lifts againft him> and obtain a complete 

♦ « Tim, If. s6. f Bph.;iu a» W^ 

Vol, III. G cqncjatftl^- 



HI SCUPTCmE CHARACTERS. 

ccxaqa:ft. He can bind ^ che ftrong man,'' and let 
the occTC&d go oree. '^ For this purpofe the Son of 
Gcd was marafciicd, tha: he might deftroy the works 
ef the deril * :^' and, during die abode of Jefus upon 
cank, full tcope was given for determining the con* 
fid. We may, t!icreM>Fe, iafdy commit ourfelv^ 
to the care of our exalted Leader, who delivers his 
people " from the power of darknefs," and promifes^ 
^ The prince of this world ihall be caft oift f." But 
let us net be fatisfied with confeffing, <^ Thou art the 
Holy One of God.*' This did the unclean ^^irit; 
and this may we alfo do, while confederate with 
Satan. Our fyftem of faith, poflibly, may be ortho- 
dox, and our hearts, at the fame time, be filled with 
impure defires, and enflaved to vile afFedions. But 
the Gofpel needs no fuch advocates ; nor will J^fus 
accept our prailes, or own us for his friends, what-^ 
ever teftimony we may bear /or him in fuch a ftate. 

Common difeafes, likewife, were inftantly removed 
by a touch or a word from him. The mother of 
Peter's wife being dangeroufly fick, the cafe was .re- 
prcfented to him ; nor was the application vain. 
With tender compkffion he relieved the diftrefs of the 
family, commanding the fever to depart, which threat- 
ened her life ; and^'the cure was fo perfeft, that flie 
was immediately a^le H> wait upon the company. 
We regard him ftiU as the great reftorer of health;* 
and his agency (hould be acknowledged in the effi- 
cacy of vvrhat are called natural means. Phyficians 
and medidnes fhould not be defpifed or neglefted; 
but our dependence muft be placed upon Him, and 
our fupplications directed to Him, in every time of 
rmiihle. 

cafe was too hard for him, nor was any humble 

. for his help ever rejefted. " When the fun 

ig, all they, that had any fick with divers dif- 



JISUS CHRIST. I 23 

cafes brought them unto him : and he laid his hands 

fon every one of them, and healed them/* This waft 
done on the clofe of the iame day, in which he had 
bc^n preaching at Capernaum, when the Sabbath^ 
according to their compatationj was ended : for they 
profefled fqch a high regard for that facrcd fcafon, 
that tbcy thought it unlawftil to carry^ or even to heal, . 
their ftck, till the evening. Then alfo, in vanouj 
other inftanceSj he triumphed over the malice and 
p6wer of Satan. For he caf! out many devils, who 
all proclaimed him to be the Meffiah : but he rejected 
their teftimony, as before, that he might not fecm tq 
be afling in cojicert with them. 

After the Sabbath had been thus fpent, probabljp 
with much bodily fatigue, he rofe very early the next 
morning, " a great while before day*;" for the 
purpofes of retiremeotj contemplation, and prayer* 
Bleiled Jefus! how does thy example reprove our 
floth and fenfual indulgence! XVe allow the nccelTuy 
I of fecret devotion ; but how xnzi-iy excufes do we urge 
for the negledl of it! Our time is fuppofed to be fo 
much w^anted for other avocations, that we can find 
little or no leifure for this. But our Lord has taught 
us to deny ourfelves the gratification of fleep, and 
rife early, that we may fecure an opportunity of wait- 
ing upon God, and thus draw down from him re- 
newed fupplies of grace from day to day. I'hofe, 
who are engaged in public life, have efpecial need of 
this caution: for a conftant hurry of bufinefs, even 
in religious concerns, may diftradl: and enervate the 
mind, unlefs its ftrength be repaired by frequent re- 
tirement. " 

But, though privacy fhould be ever fo delightful 
to us, we muft be content to have it interrupted. 
When the work of God calls us away, we muft go 
with checrfulnefs and vigour. " The people fought 

* Mark L 55, 

G 2 ^um^" 



I 



/ 



»4 SCRIPTURE CHARACTERS. 

tiim, and came unto him, and flayed him, that he 
ihould not depart from them." It might have been 
agreeable to himfelF, to fix his abode aroongft perfons 
{o much attached to him. But he relifted their foti- | 
citations ; and, with eager defire to promote the end ( 
of his miniftry, he laid, ^ I muft preach the king- 
dom of God to other cities alio; for therefpre am I 
fent." Accompanied, then, by certain difcijples, he. 
took a circuit throughout Galilee, publifhing- ^ 
glad tidings of falvation, and confirming his doctrine 
by miraculous operations. In the courfe of that Jour- 
ney aftonifhing cures were performed, and fuch si ' 
ireneral admiration excited, that immenfe multitudei 
rom various and diftant* places reforted to him *« 
This was a pleafing fight: but we may fear, that^ 
with refpeA to many, they faw, and heard, and won« 
dered, without any real benefit to themfelves« It il 
fo now. Great numbers are drawn together by the 
faithful preaching of the Gofpel^ amongft whoA 
there are thofe, who feem deeply afFeiled by the 
things which are fpoken; and yet, notwithftanding 
their profeffed approbation and zeal, we have no rea- 
fon to conclude, that they feel the (kving efficacy of 
the truth. 

It has been obferved, that our Lord was attended 

hv certain difciples, and an account is given us, at 

the commencement of this journey, of the manner ia 

which four of them, viz. Peter and Andrew, James 

and John, were called to this attendance f* The 

two former, at leafl, had been attached to his fervicB 

before, though not fuch conftant followers, as to for- 

' ke their common employments. But now, as he 

veiled much, their prefence and affiflance upon all 

afions became more necef&ry; and it was de- 

hJ, that, by accompanying him throughout his 

T, they themfelves fhould be gradually prepared 

. 23«»a5. «f Muki « li*— lo. Luke v. i— it. 



■i^V JISUS CHItlST* ft5 J 

for the worlt. They were all of one occofjatioii, and 1 

thie not of high cftimation In che world, being pUiii j 
fifhermen. Jefus fought not his Apoftles ouE of the I 
palaces of Icings, or t lie fc booJs of phtiofop[ii.Ts : but, 
while he chofe the poor and the unlearned, jt more J 
cvidendy ippeared, that ** the excellency of the power" 1 
Lfltt their preaching " was of Godj and not ot men.** 
BfWhfcn he addr^iTed hirnfclf Eo thetn, he found them J 
Ciligcutly engaged m their buQnefs: and we a!fo ar^ 
faugh t to expeA his favourable notice, though out 
time and attention be much taken up with the Jowell 
ijfflces of life. The people in Galilee with great 
cagernefs prdTcd after him to hear hii infl:ru*5tionS| 
not merely in the fynagogues, but wherever he wenf% 
On one, occafioO) therefore, we perceive him deliver- 
ing his doiSh-iaes to them by the fea ihore, aod oiU of 
teicr's veffd. 

\Vhcn this was done, that he might encoura^* ] 
t'cter and his three companfons the more cheerfully 
to follow him, by affording them a fort of typical re- 
|)tefcnta£Lon, of the wonderful efFe<5h, which fhoulU 
fee produced by their minliiry, he defircd them to 
hunch into the Jeep, and let down their nets, Pcttr 
replied, that they had laboured all night in varn, but 
^at animated 'by his direction they would make an* 
other attempt. He, that gave the word, commanded 
fuccefs, and proved that he was Lord of the whole 
creation; foi^ through bis influence, an immenfe 
^idtitu^ of ii(bes were brought to the net and taken 
^ fo as to fill them all with amazement. The pre- 
sence of the God of nature was acknowledged; and 
Peter in particular, overwhelmed with confufion and 
terror, under a fenfe of his unworthinefs and untit- 
nefe to ftand before fuch an exalted Perfonage, cried 
out, ** Depart from me, for I am a finful man, () 
Lord." The Saviour, however, inftantly difperied 
his fears, and then explained the miracle, as exhibit- 
ing an event of far greater con/equencCj tJ^e fucce(s ot 



1 



ria ^n.:*r'n.i r*.*.T-r.rT 



>T^¥ TT— rru:i r-^ ^cr.nc r: frr :« ihrmfclves 
▼^ '.::!" t: r- er-:r; •:.- v^^a: Tuir ibrr to dread? 
'«"--' n!r=-:"u>. -rr.i.— ^::-r.. -nsri T:j-':in£ ricir worldly 
■:#mn:a:':Tn= u:kt r:::':rJh ni^^ r«: i-ir*rsrJLzi;2c us about 
tier Tcr-.. 11:=*- ii>^ li- ir.iir r-jfoi?; inc, at his 
ar"i=n.:'T. tiin al reranw n:? rici^xz:: followers. 
?v:r r«: -ntrr L.r^r cn-n-jiniTr rrs brpf*. which he 
rr'T rrtrrr^ '••^n=r zirt^ ".nz-.i.iLz^i .*nxi]$ were con- 
itrrM rT it*. .- 111-:::^— ;jt -zxm sn^ rr Pcntecoft, they 
yrccLT!! 1112:^1 :: -^ nrrr n^:.." iiyi a fcr more 
ii-^iT.::-^ ---^c:^ V25 irrr^'cr:; r;iz £iis draught 
ctf £b^ 

iijZ T'Ti: T^i xT.c rr!~Tj i^f xicre the divine 
pz-KT^ '-: ^tC.^': S-t r:^ :s nrc set. « Depart from 
rr.f. O Lz-i:" ':•-: ri:.:^. - Cco^s, Lord, to my 
Lt'% ::.- I 2.— 2 '.zrJ. — -i-r. : Cr«=-, isi fubdue, as 
wt '. i* ri*:^"- zz-iiz .r/r. r^- Tr^r I TwriOi not, as I 
C'z'tnt"' — i: -t ir- T«-e -w. Irr to rSjow Chrift? 
ArrL -'- wt r»':Iv* :: fj-'ice i", r::-::rb not exadly 
ii r:.* A:.'..''.£5 c f. t;: f_'!y *::•£ ifiib^^ritcly to give 
hpz-.i Vj f-rr-r. nrr.itner r.s z: it require? Other- 
v/ f*. vT'; cir.r.ot r- r."? £ fc r!?5. O may that fame 
^'^'"''Z'/' '''"--'"• -^ c.-V"i?'^ their mirNiSj be exerted upon 
M\\ hr;,*C'> Iv, m?.y :h- ni:ri:ler5 ot Chrift, in our 
ifav, oo'ry h:- caJi ' May they be fjrr.ifhcd for their 
tA^i^i. \}jzr\ 2;bjndant meaf-ire of fJutS, love, and zea!, 
afi'} (<} taught to caft the net of the Gofpef, that they 
M) rttny catch men, in bringing them to the know* 
k^i^^t and the fcrvice of their divine Matter ! Amen. 



/ 



■i'fi.^\i"5» 



JESUS CHRIST. 



SECT. S, 



Thi firfi part of our Lsr^r firmm m the jmunf^ c^ft^ 
tmning tbt iigbt hatkudes* 

* If we confiJer, what manner of perfon JcfaS wa<^, 
bow uncommon the works he performed, and the in-^ ' 
itru^iom he delivered, we fttall not be furprifed^ that 
immenfe multitudes flocked to him from every quar- 
ter. We fball rather wonder, that they were not 
more deeply affected by what they faw and heard, and 
that fo few in comparifon became fmcere converts 
mnd difcipleSi During his abode in Galilee, when he 
perceived himfelf furrounded by a numerous affem- 
biy, with generous compaiHon for their fouls he feized 
the opportunity, to preach a fermon of peculiar ex- 
tent and importance, in which he declared, more 
publicly and exprefsly than he had done before, the 
purpofes of his, coming, and explained more clearly 
the fpiritual nature of his kingdom *. " He went 
up into a mountain," probably that his voice might 
reach to a greater diftance, and, according to the 
cuftom of the Jewifh teachers, he fat down, as at 
other times, according to the fame cuftom, he ftood 
up to read. His difciples were his near attendant?, 
and to them in a more immediate manner he direfted 
fome parts of his difcourfe, whilft many things con- 
cerned the multitudes at large. With peculiar folem* 

* JAh. v. If SiCi 



X2i SCRIPTURE CHARACTERS. 

nity " he opcnc»i his mouth, and taught them" wiA ' 
Uich wifdom and niajtlly a^ altonifhed them all. 

Tli'b fermon of our Lord upon the mount is a rich j 
and inv.duablc trealure, containing inftru£ltons ol • 
the hic;hcft moment. \Vc do not fay, that it » an t 
rxplicit and entire declaration of the Gofpel method [ 
of falvation; for the fcafon was not then come for I 
the v/ondrous plan to be as fully difclofecf, as it after- 9 
wards was. During the continuance of Jefus upon 
earth, before he had finiflicd the mvftery of redemp- 
tion by the facrifice of himfelf, he tfiought it not pro- 
per to infill, very minutely or very publicly, on the 
nature and rcafons of his death, or on the fpiritual 
benefits to be received through faith in his blood. 
On thefe fubjcils, indeed, he was not wholly filent^ 
but he li ft them to be further opened to the Apoftlci 
themfcivcs by the teaching of the Holy Spirit, that 
they mi^ht communicate them to the world, after the 
f>;nind event had taken place. We are, therefore, to 
look for a more pcrfed fummary and clearer account 
of evangelical dodlrincs in the apoftolical writings 
than in the hiftory of our Lord's life.-— Some, indeed 
bave afTcrted, that nothing more need be preached tt 




JESUS CHRIST. 129 

view he endeavoared to corred the fal(e notions they 
had imbibed concerning his kingdom, and to impre^ 
upon their minds a deeper fenfe of (piritiial and eter- 
fial things. He fpolce, therefore, in fuch a manner, 
as to difplay the dignity of his own chara£ler^ and to 
ihew the neceffity of their fubmiffion to him. For 
he pronounced benedidions, as being invefted with 
fepreme authority, interpreted the divine law, not as 
a common expounder, but as the fovereign Law- 
giver, with " I SAY UNTO YOU," and reprefcntcd 
the grand decifions of the univerfal judgment as de- 
pending upon himfelf, everlafting life or everlading 
mifery being awarded to the fons of men according 
to his irreverfible fentence. 

May weliften with reverence and profound atten- 
tion to this glorious Prophet,. and, while we meditate 
on his word, may we learn his will, and bow with* 
unfeigned fubjeSion to his command ] 

In. the firft part of his fermon, he appears like the- 
great High Prieft, bleffing his people. He fpeaks, 
not as from mount Sinai with thunderings and light- 
nings, but with invitations and promifes of mercy. 
He had been already preaching, '* The kingdom of 
heaven is at hand;" and of this his followers enter- 
tsuned very grofs conceptions, cxpe6Hng that he 
would ereS a temporal dominion with outward pomp 
and fplendour, and exalt them to places of power and^ 
dignity. But now he ftrikes at the root of their er- 
rors, (hewing them that his kingdom is of a fpiritual. 
nature : and, after defcribing the tempers and blefled- 
jiefs of thofe, who are the true members of it, con- 
trary to their preconceived ideas, he reprefents it as 
indifperfably neceffary, that they fliould = be diftin-^- 
iguiflied by a peculiar holinefs. 

^^^^reare tight different parts ofthe Ghriftiaoicha- 
^^^ ^ ^^/* Seated; to each of which a promife is an- 
are ^ ' ^^^ ^^ ^^^^ * bleffing pronounced. Thcf'^ 
^^^ to be (cparated, a^ if the Ghriftian rnig 
G s poil 




130 SCRIPTURE CHARACTERS. 

poflcfs no more than one of them ; for they are united 
in the man of God, and the combination of the whole 
conftitutes his excellency. There is alfo a bcautifiil 
conne£iion between them, and one may berConfidered 
as leading to another. 

I. " Blefled are the poor in fpirit." Though tiic 
Xrord pays no regard to us for our outward condition, 
Cnce " he accepteth no man's pcrfon," yet thofe, 
who are ** rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom,*^ 
are generally found among " the poor of this 
world *i" and it muft be allowed, that their fituation 
cxpofes them to the feweft temptations. But " the 
haughtinefs of men*' of every rank, whether poor or 
rich, " (hall be bowed down f." for thofe .only can 
receive the falvation of the Gofpel, who are fenfible 
of their fpiritual indigence. They feel and confefs, 
that they are deltitute of every thing truly valuable 
before God ; and, having no pofleflions to boaft of, 
they are willing to come as needy fupplicants, that 
they may be relieved out of the inexhauftible fulnefs 
of Jefus. A knowledge of themfelves has taught 
them, that they have neither wifdom, righteoufnefs, 
nor ftrength, and, under fuch a conviftion, they may 
conclude againft themfelves as unfit obje<Sls for the 
notice of a holy God. But Jefus fpeaks to their cafe, 
and declares, not only that they may hope for mercy, 
tut that they have alreatly obtained an earneft of it. 
Th^*4Larc bldTed/' The world may' pity and 
^^ ; but thus faith the Lord, who dwelleth 

n«, *' To thefe men will I look X •" nay, 
egun to manifeft his favour to them. 
h the kmgdom of heaven." Of fuch only 
Church of Clirif^ below confift, and from 
,-4he ChlBMl above repleniflied. None others 
pettily ^ tto Jcfui-, and partake of his grace ; 
iiefe^lpl^^reign v^ith him for ever: he hath 

ii* joi J Ixvi. 2. 





JISUS CHRIST. TJt 

retenti for them « a crown of glory/' and a <* ting- 
dom tliat cannot be moved.*' 

2, ** Blefled are they that mourn." UnfeigneJ 
and deep diftrefs canaot but follow from a real po- 
verty of fpirtt. Thofe, therefore, who know th^m- 
felvcs, Will be *^ mourners in Zton/' Hovv m.my 
caufes of forrow do they difcoverl Their tears flow 
down for the ikke of others, when they behold the Cm 
and mifery, which are in the world. But, b^ing m 
the firit place concerned for themfelves, they Weep 
before God with fincere contrition, not fo much for 
the pr^fent iticonvcalences or future dangers, to 
which their iniquities may cxpofe them, as for the 
hcinoufncfs of their condu^fl a|ainft that great and 
gracious Being, who has the llrongeft claims upon 
them for their gratitude, lovCj and fcrncc. They 
may be derided for their dejeftion of mind, a<£ if they j 
were loft to all happmef^ : but it is other wife j '* They, 
that fow in tears, (hall reap in joy *," It is a pe- 
culiar mercy to be brought into this very ftate: far 
now it appears, that the Lord hath a tender regard 
to them. He '^ hath begui^ a good work in them," 
the effeft of which, though painful for the prefent, 
will be " quietnefs and afllirance for ever f." The 
lips of truth declare, " they fhall be comforted." 
Perhaps they fear, " they fhall lie down in forrow;" 
but, under the influence of the Holy Ghoft, " the 
Comforter," they fhall receive ftrong confolation. 
Through a difcovery of the po\yer and grace of Jefus, 
they (hall be " filled with all joy and peace in believ- 
ing:" and foon (hall every tear be wiped from their 
eyes, when they ihall be admitted to complete and 
uninterrupted happinefs in heaven. 

3. " Bleffed are the meek." Wherever there i5 
a proper apprehenfion of the nature of fin, a total re- 

• novation takes place in the aftedtions of the mind. 



Pfal. cKxvI. 5. f Ifa. ttxU. 17* 

G 6 *^TW 



i 



122 SCRIPTURE CHAmACTSRS. 

^^ The lofty looks of man are huxnblecV ud the 
fierceiiefs of his temper is reftrained* Such is the 
origin of true fpiritual meeknefs, which wiU produce 
an humble deportment towards God and nuiu 
Thofe, who are partakers of this grace^ wall bow 
down with fubniiffion to the fovereign wHI of Goii 
without murmuring or cavilling at his appointoBcnti 
or commands, and, fenfible of their own igiioranoe^ 
will implore and obey his guidance. With refofifi 
to their fellow creatures, they will not be forwara or 
afl'uming, but *^ take the lowed room ;*'— not pecrift 
or felf- willed, but kind and gentle } — not eafiljr pro» 
voked, or implacable under injuries, but they will re- 
turn good for evi!, blcding for ciu-fing. The worii 
in general are fo oppofite, that thefe perTons nuv^ 
probably, be fcorned as men of mean and little mloa, 
dcftitute of all proper firm nefs and dignity. But the 
grace of God is upon them, for he hath implanted this 
diipofuion in them, and he willteftifyhis approbation 
of it. They are happy; and none others have an/ 
true enjoyment; for all thoie aiFedions, contrary to 
rneeknefs, fuch as pride, anger, cruel ty> and revenge 
imbiEter the fplril and invariably produce misery, hut 
■ the meek JhalJ inheiit the e^rth* and fli^' 




jiffui CHRrsr, 13 J 

eternal ; and ihcib ibey covet with fomediing of the 
fame vehcmencvi with which thofc long for fuppUec 
of meat ami drink, who are fufferrng the extremities 
of hunger and thirft. In preference lo every other 
object, t\\^y dell re to polTefs '* the rightcoufnefs of 
God;'* thit righicotirnL;rsj, which will aiifwer the de- 
mands of his law, and that alft?, hy which abij^' diey 
can fiyve him with ncceptajioe here, and be fitted for 
the complete and everlafting fruition of htm in hea- 
ven^ From 2. conviction of their guilt and depravicy 
they perceive their inability to juftify thcmfelvesj 
and then, with the utmofl iinportuntty thev enqinrr^ 
** How (ball m-in be juft with God?^ Vhey feet 
Ilkewifc their want of conformity, in their hearts and 
lives, to the will of God; nor can they be fatisfied, 
without attaining a meaftire of that conformity* 
While they contend with their own corrupt affec- 
tions, they pant after a total renovation of the foul, 
and pray moft fervcndy, to be '^ holy in all manner gf 
converUtioo/' 

Happy indeed is the man, in whom deOres lite 
thefe are excited! They are not the wifhes of ff:n^ 
fu^lifts or worldiiiigSj but of them only, whom God 
hath bleffed; and he will give them more graces 
Thev fhall not be difappoimed, but abundantly gra- 
tified by a ready communication of thofe benefits, 
which they fo andently cpvet: " they fliaH be filled.*' 
The Lord " fatisfieth the longing foul, and fiUeth 
the hungry foul with goodnefs *." Xhey ftiall be 
completely juftified through the rightcoufnefs of their 
Redeemer, in which they may (land with confidence 
before God; and, being fan£tified by the Spirit, they 
iball perfevere in rightcoufnefs and true holinefe. 
They are, therefore, encouraged to indulge a delight- 
ful expciiation : *'' Let the heart of them rejoice, that 
ibck die Lord f.'* 

♦ POd* cvii, 9» "I Cf . 3. 

5, ^* Bkff^ 



! 



134 SCRIPTURB CHARACTERJ* 

5. " Blefled arc the merciful." Such, as have 
teen now dcfcribed, will not confine their attentioii 
to thcmfelves; but, having *' tafted that the Lord is 
. gracious,*' they will feel cximpaflioii for their fellow- 
creatures, and (hew mercy according to their abili- 
ties and opportunities. There will be various occa- 
fions for the exercife of this temper, owing to the 
ignorance, fin, and mifery, which have overfpread 
the world. They will, therefore, confult the happi- 
hefs and welfare of all around them, and, under the 
ftr6ng influence of Chriftian benevolence, will en- 
deavour to pleafe and to profit them. Accordmgly, 
they will gjve " the foft anfwer," which " turneth 
away wrath ;" and " in their tongues will be the law 
of kindnefs," becaufe the law of love governs their 
hearts. This will alfo be evinced by their aftions, 
as well as profeffions. They will cheerfully relieve 
the neceffitous, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, 
and vifit the fick* Nor will their compaflionate re- 
gard be confined to the body; but, with generous 
concern for the fouls of men, they will defire to warn 
the carelefs and inftrudt the ignorant, if fo be they 
may bring them into the way of righteoufnefs and 
peace. 

Thefe alone poflTefs real tendernefs and liberality of 
mind; and it muft be generally allowed, that fuch 
perfons are the moft happy in themfelves, an orna- 
ment to religion, and a blelfing to focicty, where 
they live. But thefe are of a heavenly extradtion, 
born from above. The merciful temper, here de- 
fcribed, is fo contrary to the natural fclfiflinefs and 
cruelty of the human heart, as to form a ftrong evi- 
dence of divine grace. Thefe, then, are they, who 
are truly " blefled ;" and " they fhall obtain mercy." 
This is the char-i<^er of all, whom God hath recon- 
ciled to himfeif ; by fuch marks they are to be known 
and diihnguiihed: and it is an unwarrantable pre- 

ij>tion to imagine ourfelves in the favour of Hea- 



JESUS CHRIST. fjS 

yen, without this influence of the Spirit, difpofing us 
to fhew favour to our fellowr-creaturcs upon earth. 

6. *' Blefled are the pure in heart." The Lord 
is a God of purity, who *' defires truth in the inward 
parts," and is not to be impofed on by any external 
difplay or pretences of piety. But ah ! " how abo- 
minable and filthy is man*!" He has .** yielded his 
members fervants to uncleannefs," his^*' mind and 
confcience is defiled," his " heart defperatcly wick- 
ed t." We muft, therefore, not merely be reformed, 
as to grofs immoralities, but " renewed in the fpirit 
of our mind J." The fubjefts of Chrift's kingdom 
are *' born again," their principles are changed, their 
tempers are fandlified^. They renounce all iniquity, 
not in appearance or profeffion only, but with a cor- 
dial defire and determination never more to return 
to it. They ch? erfully " yield themfclves unto God," 
and he is pleafed to make their hearts his own habi- 
tation through the Spirit. Thefe, then, are *' the 
blefled of the Lord:" for, however they mud deny 
themfelves manyfenfual gratification*?, the Lord God 
hath beftowed upon them nobler enjoyments. They 
are feparated from the world : but he hath confccrated 
and united them to himfelf j and it ought to fuffice 
them, that " they (hall fee God." Even here, he 
will mjinifeft his grace and glory to them, and ^^ lift 
up the light of his countenance upon them." And 
can any earthly delights be compared with their hap- 
pinefs, when they are favoured with his vifits, and 
the difcoveries of his love ? Yet this is only an earneil 
of their future felicity. Soon (hall the vail, which 
now in a great meafure hides from them the bright- 
nefs of his f.ice, be entirely removed; and, when they 
are ad.iiitted to that beatific vifion, they fllaii be tranf- 
Jbrmed into his righteous image. " Wc ihall be like 

* Job XT. 16. f Rom. VI. 19, Tit. ii 15. Jer. ivii. 9. 

{ £ph. ir* %p 



126 SCRIPTU&£ CHARACTERS^ 

him ; for we ihall fee htm, as he is :"-^^< and Cq (half 
we ever be with the Lord *.'* 

7* ^< Blefled are the peace-makers/' In .fucfa a 
World as ihis^ various contentions may be cxpeStci, 
which will prove and evidence wr chara&ers and 
diipofttions* Amidft warm and angry debates, the 
jnen of grace will be diftioguithed by dieiir labouring 
lor peace. They ^ ftudy to be quiet," and to' pro^ 
mote harmdny in their &niilies aiid neighbourhood 
willing rather to facriiice their own interefti chtn bit- 
terly to ftrive for it. Having, much foi^iven theni, 
they refufe not to ifbrgive an o&nding brother, though* 
it were ** feve&ty times fevenj" but eagerly embrace 
him, and renew their aAtirances of kindnefs to bitn. 
It grieves them, to obferve difcord among ediers^ 
ano^ as far as their influence will cTBtend, they will 
endeavour to repair the breach, and effed a reconci- 
liation. This is indeed a happy temper, and we need" 
not fear to pronounce the poffcflors of it " bleffledv" 
not only as enjoying a fweet tranquillity of mind, but 
as havinff in themfelves an evidence of the divine fa- , 
vour. For, by their refemblance of him, who is the* 
God of peace and love, they prove their relation to* 
him, and ihall be taken notice of under the honour- 
able diftinftion of his children. They are *^ born of 
God," who has put his Spirit upon them^ and a» 
children, they are heirs ; heirs of the kingdom, where* 
all will be united in bonds of ftri£tefl union for eve£ 
and ever. 

WiH not a charafter fo excellent meet with uni* 
verfal efteem and refped among men.^ No: quite 
other wife. As " the friendfhip of the world is en*- 
mity with God f," all, who bear his image, muft 
look for contempt and hatred from thofe, who are in 
a (late of oppofition to him. But we add, according 
to our Lord's declaration, 

* J John iii. a. I Tbeff. iv» 17. f James iv. 4. 

4. vv^\^^4 



JfESUS CHRIST* 137 

8. ** Blefled are they, which are pcrfecuted^ for 
righteouftnft' fake/' The faints of Ood are a con- 
ftant reproof to the wicked^ who, from that very cir- 
cumftance, are often extremely mortified, and fre« 

3uent}y enraged. Hence it generally happens, that 
le more eminently holy, zealous, and ufeful any 
perfons are, the more malignity and violence they 
meet with. But, while they fuiFerfor their attach«> 
ment to the Saviour, in the caufe of truth and righ- 
tcoufnefs, let them take up their crofi with faith and 
patience, nor lament their cafe as fevere and cala- 
mitous. He, who has feparated them to himfelf from 
the midft of an evil world, as his own pecuUar people^ 
will fupport and comfort them ; and, whatever tem-» 
poral lofles they may fuflain in his fcrvicex he wlU 
bellow upon them an abundant recompence. The^ 
may, pombly, be excluded from earthly po^ffions, 
but they fhall inherit the kingdom of evedafting 
glory. 

The charafier, hfl: mentioned, fo exa£Qy deicribed 
our Lord's difciples, who ftood by htm, and whont 
it was neceflary to eiKourage in w profpe£l of their 
approaching fufferings, that he made a particular ap- 

Elication of it to them. While he pronounced his 
enedi£tion upon theni, he taught them to expeft 
Tcorn, oppofition^ and infamy, for their adherence to 
"him, even though they were ever fo circumfpe^ Tn 
their condud. But he called upon them to mainftain 
a holy confidence and joy, and to exult in the lively 
hope of the glorious reward, which awaited them^ 
remembering that all the Patriarchs and Prophets of 
old had trodden the very fame path^ and endured the 
CTok before them. 

Let the difciples of Jefus in every age be reminded^ 
that they alfo mould look for fimilar treatment from 
tlic world, and that it will become them to be equ 
bold and vigorous iu the fcrvice of their Lord 



14^ 



tcKTrrURe chakactms* 



Be folicitauf;^ therefore^ to be fefoiad out of j 
prtkm wretchctl fituation, and cry with imporeuii 
*' O Lord^ remember us with tbe &vour that d 
bcareft unto thy people ; O vrfit m with tby falvatii 
that we mAy fee the gooil of thy chofcn, that we i 
rc^joice in the gkdjiefs of thy natiotii that we i 
|tory with thutc inheritance * I'* AmcMU 



JESUS CHMST. 



sicx > 



TkefeemJ part rf nr Lx^sferwB^ m dv VMri^ «» 
wbicb be txpiamix CiTtmx jrmiSs ifiotia^wtjarm 

Ths multitndcs, who locked irtKiad c!» SavScvr, 
were, probablj, Tcry eager to kccw, vbas ocw doc- 
trine he would prcadi, or arerie to rccczre LIzi £^xa 
ao apprefaciifion tkat he undcmlsM 2zd zataos. ts 
£ibverc the goodlj fyfietn, w^iich the Old TeSsraeat 
eftablifbedy and of which thej hcaJKf, To grrr 
diem^ therefore, the oece&rj ixibnDstioa ccoceni- 
tng himTelf^ and to remove their prsjudkcs, Le id^ 
lemnly afiotcd, that he came not to dcSroj £x !xw 
i>r the prophets, but to fulfil *. 

Since the Lord God changeth nor, cae rere^adca 

cannot be repugnant to another. Yet diere ran be 

in one 9igt a more fuD and ezprefe dedararlon of die 

divine mil, than in the preceding: and die foij ier 

coaiiBunicattons might be intenml to prc|nre t^c 

way for a clearer manifeftaiioo of the £uDe trjsis, 

Xhus, in b£t, the increafe of (acred light has le- 

iemblcd the gradual approach of day. The great 

^ n* ^ redemption was intimated to Adam upon his 

^^> ^nd in fttcceeding generations frefli and bn^xxa 

Se ?]f^^ of it were a£brded to the Church, under 

hc^^!^^ diQieniadon, and by various prophets, tffl 

^^'*^~^ — ;of. Jcfus Chrift, to.^ribom^ as f^ «~ 

^ Hbll. T. I7i ac 



J^ i." 




.:-;-. ■-. t:: - z=^ :a all 

- ^ . T ■ T -'--:r- :::? ra- 

■ - '...=.:.- '.izr:?* and 

-" :: "" : - v ::: - Taciiiied 

■ - " T -•- '»i 'v-: r.:e-j[ence 

■- ' :' •- -irT?. r.i ;:-r-nc and 

- '-■". : • : - r-:-.:— ?:tr:::t:cn he 

' '■ - '.. ' ::.=: — Tmr.:::* rat -poil 

''*.'*"" '* ::: :.;:*i :r.i Vofcr- 

'■ ' ' ' :^-:-: ?. J-:::: r:. 5 view of 

v ' • -.4- :: r ;r?. nrc-z'^. rslcafed 

'-" . 5 •»:-... .-i:: re:: y?!y bound 

'■yT\ kT.i, cc-i-;r, azreeablyto 






/ 



■•' ' f'. '*,n.f.\'-^''.f\ thedeilen of all former 

, "'I ^";.f.J. "I fh^^ir defers. The days 

,, '' '"•", »»"r'f'»f', arc called "the laft 

''n0j ih' ri'. (.i« , , , .iiiijr^ icvcUtiQn is to be ex- 



4i 



JESUS CHEirT. li^l 

pcSed. Patriarchs and Propiiii: 7'j'^c*:i firvr*/!: ^'^ 
his incarnation, and paved ti* Wc\ ; . r t •:. . -Aui 
now, fince he has coar^r, ^rii i.v. v-^o "ii;; f'-i 
thing prcdiSed of hi^;, riX"?':.^ nu-.;;* ;; •' i.-.v,-... 
either to difcovcr the will t: G'^i it •_'. rr:*.i •. -•;• v- 
ciiiatlon for us. Whtt iriir.ti. t-*: .-.'it; i-y, iV • -i^ 
do we owe for our d.ili.-it-iLtc ;;- v ,»:i«r :,*;:«— : ** 
Gofpcl! And whtt rerjrrii ire o^e -.t H - v.-, : .v 
pcrfefied for ever the ^re*: wvc -/ -j./ L i. v- 

Our Lord proct^tz '.:. i:: iV':-.(t-. v^ -:i - u • -».* 
authority anf fii!! exitr: -/ v.t i..-; si-.i!':;. .'.*• 
God will not recede -Vt-r. •. ■ : r* .t-j, : s*-* , -r * \'i 
confequently, iha: eirr.er - let ei-.t - , ■- .vf :;, : v 

r puniQiment in£:5:ef. V» ;;-',, i. --,^'* V«:. -v -i.r- 
grefe the lezii of ri^e.'t —e-.r:- i. iV. ',-.'.'.: -j; • v -- --. 
to do the f2:::c, V: ::' " t ;. -: ;" - vt '- V* •■ ' v • ^ 
would rer.c^r -5 -r.-.: -vr i :;.'.* • * r . %.•■ 
and to be Q:{i::i'£^.(zti .r. -•.•/ .V. .*-\ w* " . ■" . * -t 
an unlvcrill iV:r.:2::r. i"^ ".t". ".■.-.' w" ^ - ■ y 

~ feem ever :o ir'S-Z: t.M * ./..-.t v.. .*."iV - y.-.JJi 

upon o:her5. 

•While Tef-is inc-lii-v, i ".t '••'.v.v" v' '.'^ '.*-' * 
• 111.- * ' 

IS prosiT.s tr.i: v.t '';'■:. t r "•:.*/ *.' •- ' «..•■ '. v 

* on the Scr'be- a-ii ?r,-r :';e-.. v,:*v. Vi*-- -r : • - :-. 

veneration for t.-.t r ;:: '.;Z -iv. vf .VC: • = . / i- •'/',^ 

therefore, sitsr/^'- :'.t - '.^ '.•«.- r^ -.•..•.'.'*.'•'*"' 

r**/- ■.".-:-._ 1 . - - - . * " 

_ . -^•-' prettr*de:s -- i^'tv* •", - ^" -•. a*-. • - 
p:>crrii?- - ^Vj 

r^^ 'o Vr%'" .'^ "*"'■"• ~ ■ '/-^ "' "- ••'-•'■•■'■; •'' •'•- 

^//^ .-oiuc-ii cf r.eir i-ttii'-r-e'.: -o v.f: ', -.^ vw^ 



144 SCRIPTUItB CHARACTERS. 

awav much of its meaning. Jefus, however, has 
inftruAcd us, contrary to their gloffes, that it enjoins 
pcrtrOt holi lid's i" ^he difpofidons of the mind, as 
wtll as the practice of the life. Their rigfateoufnefs 
was mcrt!y external ; for all their works were done 
• n> he iccii of men:" but we are taught to feek for 
inwaxvl purity, and not to be fatisiied with regularity 
t>f' nuurcrj* or a (hew of piety. They were infiu-. 
riw*t\U cvcii in their religious duties, by bafe princi- 
I^Jv^ . ** K^5 a pretence making long prayers," and 
(Kui'^rt^ or' their own works, as if the happinefs of 
hsM«c» wv'ce no more than a juft recompence of their 
«kwui^. Fuc we are warned of the fin and danger 
c< ttutV.n^ tv> ouriVK-es* whatever our attainments 
niAv S:^ 4tKi cr* the neceffity of a better obedience 
l^au K>ur cwo, to procure our juftification before 

Kr«n\ a general declaration, our Lord defoended 
Id « particular expofition of the fpiritual nature of the 
hw, in certain precepts, which had been fliamefolly 
perverted; guarding the people againft their errone- 
ous teachers, and requiring their attention asd fub- 
gBiffion to himfelf. 

I. He infifted ojT the extcnfivc meaning of the 

Cxth commandment. This was undcrftood, as if it 

l^d fori>idden noting more than the adbal com- 

Uttfion •f wilful murder. But Jefus, the great 

l^weiver, inftrufis us, that it condemns whatever 

^HvTead to fuch violence, and, therefore, that all ' 

^^^efs anger or defire of revenge, and all oppro- 

•l^us language, arifing from this vehemence of paf- 

«H> will julfly expofe us to the divine vengeance. 

viV-jrdi-'*'" It were vain to worfliip God, or ex- 

^s^. ntagc from his ordinances, fo long as 

^. ins under the influence of malignant 

^ We muft lay afidc our animofities, and 

• reftitution for injuries committed, 

* compafs God's aixax \" foe tVi^ mod 



JCSUS CHRIST. #*4$ 

toR\y facnfices in<l profeffions of Ae warmed de^^o- 

ti€m will notcompcfifsite the want of brotherly love* 

Comrnon prudence, alfo, as well as religion, requires^ 

[ ihat conteatJons be dropped and a reconcUiatiQn ef- 

fcfled, as foon as may bc» If you arc tlirea(cnod 

with a imt by one, whom you have offended, how 

much better is it by a fpeedy accommodation, to repair 

the breach, than obftinatcly to perfift in the conteft, 

till matters are brought to an extrcmiiy, and rigorous 

jufticc miift have its courfe! If it be thus in humaEt 

afairs, how much more is it your intereft and duty, 

Without a moment's delay, to fcek peace with the 

Lord God Almighty, whom you have provoked j left, 

Hfceing fummoned to his bar* you be cafi: in the trial, 

^Vnd fentenced to the infernal prifon, from which there 

^nn be no releafe ! 

^K Such was the fubftancc of our Lord's addre&: and 
Hpall we not allow the fuitabkae^Ts of Jt to oarfclves? 
^^r fhall we boal^, like the Pharifees, that, becaufe 
we have not flied the blood of a fellow-creature, t)ic 
fixth commandment has no charge againft us? Arc 
we free from all violence of temper? Or have our 
tongues never betrayed the vindiftivc defires of our 
r hearts? Are we now at peace? Or have we, at 
Je^ift, anxioufly fought for it ? And when we lift up 
, our hands in prayer, is it "without wrath?'' We 
♦ tnay thank God, that fo many powerful reftraints 
are laid upgn the finful afFedions of men; or elfc 
•very part of the world would prefent us with fcenes 
of horrible confuilon. But, though our furv may be 
reprefled, fo as not to break forth to the difturbancc 
ofibciety, God may behold much iniquity within us. 
For it is poffible, that, where a calmnefs and bene- 
volence of fpirit are pretended, much rancour may 
remain in the heart : and, in God's account, " who* 
focvcr hateth bis brother is a murderer *•" 



I 



♦ I Johaiih 15. 

Vox,///. a ^.-ftft 



1 



46 SCRIPTURE CHARACTERS. 

2, He opened the fpFritual and extcnfivie nature of 
the fevcnth commandment. Here sdfo, as in the 
preceding inftance, the prohibition had been confined 
to merely external afts ; and he only was deemed an 
adulterer, who had been guilty of the groffeft un- 
deannefs. But Jefus teaches us, that inward impu- 
rity brings us under the divine condemnation, that a 
luitful dcfire and a wanton .eye are forbidden in the 
full fenfe of the law, no lefs than the abfolut« viola- 
tion of the marriage bed. And will any perfon lay, 
I have never felt any fuch irregular motions in my 
heart : my eye hath never wandered in a lafcivious 
■manner ? Let us remember, that we are always open 
to the infpe6lion of that God, who " fearcheth the 
heart, and trieth the reins," and that he hath noted 
down all our fecret imaginations, looks, and wilhes. 
Let us not prefume to jufti fy ourfelves before him. 

If we would avoid the fin of lewdnefs, we muft 
refift every fecret propenfity to it, and fubdue the 
corrupt afre<Stions of the flefli* This muft be done 
at any pains or expence, as Jefus has inftru<ftedus: 
the inordinate defire muft be abandoned, though it 
may feem as dear to us as a right eye, or profitable 
as a right hand, and though it may coft us as much 
to part with it, as to cut off the moft tender and 
ufeful member of the body. For, as in chirurgery, 
a gangrene muft be ftopped, or dfe death enfues : fo 
here, the moft favourite paffion muft be given up: 
there is no room for hefitation : it muft be done, or 
elfe everlafting deftrudHon in the torments of hell 
muft be the confequence. 

Our Lord was naturally led from the exposition of 
the fisventh commandment to condemn the prevailing 
pradtice of divorcing their wives, as fancy, difguft, 
or refentment might diSate. Separations, indeed, 
had been allowed by the Mofaic law under certain 
reftriftions ; but the permifliqn had been abufed to 
Mje word purpofcs 5 and wc art ivon? um^x:^ \Vvai 



HDtKp ng but f nfiJelity in the wife can abfolvc the huf- V 
band from the alligations of the marriage bond- 
Alas ! it is too evident from the ftatc of things amoog 
ourfelves, that, with refpeit to this important fubjed^ 
the authority of Chrift is but llnle regarded, and that 
the chaftity and continence, which he inculcated, are 
mofl {hamefuJIy violated, ^ 

3, He expounded alfo the third commandment, ^ 
The heinoufnefs of perjury, which is a folemn appeal 
to God in atteftation cf a lie, was generally ac- 
knowledged among the Jews. But thsy fiiewcd z 
manifeft contempt of the m^efty of God by the fre- 
quency of their oaths in common converfation* Ani 
it fhould fecm, that they fo interpreted the law, as 
to jullify the prafiice of f wearing, if they abflrained 
only from the cxprefs mention of Gcd, or did not 
call upon him to confirm a falTehood* How ingeni- 
ous is the depraved nature of man in perverting the 
truth, and inventing arguments, for the vindication 
of his own evil conduit! For, agreeably to our 
Lord's reprefentation, we may afkj What do you, 
when you fwear by any creature? Your appeal in cf- 
feft is, and muft ultimately be, to the great Creator 
himfelf, though it contain not any dtreSt invocation 
of his name. It is therefore enjoined, that you 
"fwear not at all." 

We are not forbidden to make ufc of oaths" in a fo* 
lemn manner, and for important purpofes, in fupport 
of the truth : for thefe were commanded in the old 
Teftament, and unexceptionable examples of them 
are recorded in the new. But Jefus prefcribes a rule 
only for our common cpnverfation. Inafmuch as it 
is an infult to Jehovah, to introduce him as a witnefs 
or an arbiter of our trifling controverfies, in familiar 
difcourfe; we are required to avoid all ftrong and 
vehement affeverations, -and only fimply to affirm, or ^ 
fimpljr to deny, without having recourfe to any other ifl 
expedient to cHnbliOi our cr^fjtt For not n\cre\^ ^ 
Hz t\\t 



from the paip«Die vioiattoiv ottne 
by fwijury, or jiBpmtf execnttioiity h i Ht i u| 
tonveriation with ^ fimplicity and godiji 
JHow little it this attended to! Is not tte 
God frequently introduced, in a light m 
' manner, as an embelliflunent of difcourfe, 
preffion of furprtie ? Do we not adopt certai 
able phrafes, which have the nature of oatt 
to them? Alas! the fa£dcc h general; 
God it provoked among ut cwerj day. F 
by the. multitude of perjured fertoti$ and bL 
we Mervp that the lacred appellations an 
God andJhit Chrift are treated with the ut 
tempt, being conftandy ufed as woitls of • 
the merefeacpletives of language, by many 
of t&eir moiety, and poii^ the £u^eft^nfl 
the world. 

. j^ Ho guarded againft a mifoaderftandi 
Meiaic -|aw of retaliation. A precept had 4 
for die direfiion of magiftrates in the puni 
iquries; for diey were authorised to take 
lor an eye, and a tooth for a tooth/' Tki 
Interpreted, as if prirate peribns mig^t aiRo 



r^^^^ JISUS CHRIST, 149 

to colleft from them, that u malicious, vindidiv« 
mind h totally oppofite to true religion j that^ rather 
than fiiriouny withiUnd or retaliaie one injury^ w« 
0tight to cxpofe ourfdves to a recot\d,by g&mlenc^fs and 
forbearance i that it were better quietly to fuft4iii anjf 
irsfiing damage, fuch as n blow on the fiice or the 
lofs of a garmeAt, than rigoroiiAy infift upon a com- 
pcnfation^ and that our benevolence fliouM be (9 
extenrive, that no fuitable opportunity of doiug good 
fhotild be negletftcd. 

It is eaficr to iirid the meaning, as to the fubftance 
at leaft, than to make the application. Who among 
us are willing to be directed by tliis divioe Teacher? 
The temper of real Chriitiaiis and that of worldly 
men are quite contrary to eachorher: sind to fullil 
the Jaw of Chrift would ftibjedt us to the reproach of 
cowardice and meannefs of fpirit. -Beit fo: lee us 
cheerfully bear the impLitation* That fenfe of honour^ 
which is fo much contended for, ii^ prmcipk moit 
odious to God, as it implits a vindidive diTpo'lcion, 
or, what mufl lead to Ir, a tletermuiaLion not to paff 
by the moft tr [fling offtncc. We r^eed not, thcin, 
refle»ft upon the Scribes and Pharifcies; as retiilidtioa 
is pratStifed and jiiftiiied among ourfelves. Whoever 
infults the man of hopiour muil anfwer it at the peril 
of bis life. Nay^ do we not all, under provocations, 
feel a defire of revenge? And have we not been be* 
trayed into fuch a conduct, as our Lord has here con- 
den»ned ? He^ however, has given us an example of 
forbearance, as well as the precept. May we ftudy 
to attain " the mind, which was in Chrift Jeftsf" 

5. He inculcated the law of univerfal love. It 
was allowed to be a divine command^ that we (hjould 
Jove our neighbours j but, as if neighbours included 
only thpfci ^^^0 ^^^ nearly related or intimately con-» 
ne6ted, the command was fo expounded, that it was 
judged rights perhaps expedient, to treat thofe wui\ 
contempt dfidjr^CQur, who were of a diifevenl ,covit\-» 

H 3 * UNj 



I 



\ 



u&ge a fufficient reaibn for witbhcdiiang tb 
offices of Chriftian benevolence. He has ii 
us, that, « the children of God poflefi pea 
vileges, they muft furpafs all others in ii fjpin 
givenefs and difinterefted eoodnefs, and pro 
relation to their heavenlj Father by d^ir rdc 
of him. - 

What fhall we iky to thefethii^? Hzr 
learned Chrift, as to love our enemies? It i 
to profefs this enUrged philanthropy^ while } 
the general countenance and 'fiivour of A 
But can we ftand *^ the fiery trial/* aAi|» « 
xnoft injurious periecutiohs, return' good I 
Are we not eafily offended, and hardlj 
oiled ; ^ implstcaUe, unmerciful ?" And is 
temper of mind, which becomes the heirs of 
«* What do we more than others I** Or wl 
we differ from them, who know not God 
fimilitude do we bear to him, whom we call 
ther? ." God is love ;" and, if we feel not tl 
of that principle, we are not renewed aifter 
nefs, nor can we dwdl with him. 

But ihall we not own, that the divihe'lai; 



JESUS CHRIST. 15 L 

we not fatisfiea ourfelves with a partial, and merely ex- 
ternal obedience 5 without attempting to regulate the 
inward defires of the mind? " The commandment is 
exceeding broad * j" and each particular precept, in 
the fpiritual meaning, proves that we are all in a ftatc 
of guilt and condemnation. Let the conviclion have 
its full influence; and we fhall then welcome the 
Saviour, who " is the end of the law for rightcoufneli 
to every one that believeth t«" 

Believers, however, as before obferved, thoiii^h 
**juftified from all things," are not releafed from 
their obligations to holinefs.. Does Jefjs fpcak, as if 
the law were defigncd to be abrogated, or to be no 
longer binding upon his people? Is it not ftronglv 
enforced for the direction of our conduct: Here, 
then, we fhould ftudy, " what manner of pcrfons we 
ought to be,** how far fuperior to other?, " in all holy 
converfation and godlinefs." Our impartial andcon- 
fiant regard to duty will be the fafeft evidence of our 
fiuth; and without it our expectations of the divine 
fsLvoMT are no better than the hope of the hypocrite, 
which fhall perifb, 

* Pialf cxix» 96* f Rom. %• A^* 



H4 X«.^ 



ISS 



leHlfTrtlE tllARACTElCS* 




JESUS CHRIST. 



SECT. ]<v 



fV tilri fMri if §mr L^rfifinmn «■ iht 

vAitk in ^miti^mi bh dlfafki ^gmit/i vain gkr 
ikikm ^^ iii wttid, ^m 

Thi ncceility of rcligtoii is generally acia 
kidgtdi %hi\i\ iht nature of it U but linJ^ undcril 
Mmy eoctiplf with iht Ft^mi^ and p«c oti the 
hUiKc^ of pictft vnd ftat? tHcmfdFes devout. 
c^vfc they Are fo sceeBmed, a? the very tim^ 
ihcy Arc u'lKJcr the idliMtice of the bdlcA dlfpcMlt 
St*r*i were the Fl^iiifees of old^ whoj with aU 
bo.Aed gcodnei^t bctiijped in ha^trcd csf the do4 
atid geiiim cil Ctiriftoesty. It becmoie exmi 



JfiJUS CHRIST. IS3 

nefs mud be of another fort; or elfe, we cannot be 
the fubjcfts of Chrift's kingdom, however frequent 
or fervent we may be in the external obfervances of 
divine worfliip. Let us pray, that He^ who alone 
knows our fecret deHres and 'purpofefs, would dtfcover 
to us and eradicate every motive and affe£lion of our 
hearts, incompatible with true Chriftianity, that we 
may not be found deftitute of that ^^ holinefs, without 
which no man fhall fee the Lord." 

L We are cautioned againft vain glory, of that 
oftentatious difplay of our own goodnefs, which is 
meant to catch the notice, and procure the admira- 
tion, of men. An arrogant fpirit, which is always 
cxintemptible, is never more prepoilerous, than. when 
it aflumes the mafk of piety. It were the height of 
abfurdity and profanenefs, to pradlife thofe very du« 
ties, which fhould proceed from the deepeft humility, 
and cannot be acceptable without it, merely to gra- 
tify a conceited and ambitious temper: and yet it is 
a common cafe. The moft painful and mortifying 
injunftions are fubmitted to, in order to gain a cha- 
TsuSLet. Perfons profcffing godlincfs have peculiar 
need to guard againfl this principle; for they are not 
fo much in danger from fenfual, as from fpiritual 
wickednefs. They are often overtaken and deceived^ 
even in their bcft fervices, by the fecret workings o£ 
pride, which, while it conceals itfelif from the niceft 
obfervation, influences and corrupts the whole con- 
dii&. Our Lord, therefore, mentions feveral in«» 
fiances of religious a£te, which we may be tempted to 
perform entirely or chiefly with a view to the efteem 
of our fellow- creatures ; and on this account he calls 
upon us to '^ take heed.'* 

I. Alms*giving. The duty is not in this place 
commanded ; but it is liippofed, that every difciple . 
g[ Jeius wiU pra£life it : and it is ftill univerfally al- 
lowed among Chriftians, diat we are under indlf- 
penfable obligaiioiis ^o relieve the difireflied) ^sr 
He 



i 3+ SCRIPTURE CHARACTERS. 

in/ t'l oir a'lMli'i'.-s. Kit cur attcnti n is here •:.- 
re t "i t'j '."'.J prop.r principle of obedience. A'.ita 
.■.;.■ i«j i'-* j':v«.:r!, from a lupreine regard to God, n-ji 
ti iv.tn. Hypocrites, we find, can diflribace large 
1 .III'., for the piirp-'fo of charity. But ufu illy they 
;i!«: •ilL-iitiaioiis; an-l, as they iTcek the praife of the 
v/t'ili!, ?ii?y fail not to pvihliih their own liberality, 
:!ii ! contiivi." ih.il it may bj of fuch a fort, or exerted 
;.t 1m 11 tiiiio and places, as will engage general no- 
til i: ;ii.ii f lli'cn. 'I'he motive being wrong through- 
o'.i:, t!ic moll extciifive muniricence, on this plan, 
c.nmot he an acceptable fervice. Surrounding fpec- 
t.itcis and witnciTcs, who look only on the outward 
:»j>iK::r;inCf, may cxprcfs* their admiration; but the 
( :iil (iihl, \v:u) i> K)ra:otten and defpifed, fine e the 
r .-lir-c* i-i not o;rlTcd to Him, will beftow no re- 
iumpcnk* Vet even thefe perfons " have their :e- 
\v.iKl/' Maiiv arc ready to complimenr them ^x 
their gcncrafity* and court their favour; but llir^j 
which is :*dl thev will receive, is a poor benc^t iii- 
ili;?di fleeting as a breath of air! 

How ditrcrcnt is the diiciple of Jefus ! His aim is 
> approve himfelf to God j and, to be coniiitcist, be 



/ 




JESUS CHRIST. 1 55 

nions of men, we arc aiiing from the vaioglorious 
principle, which is here condemned. 

2. Prayer. This alfo will be allowed to be an 
important duty, and one which enters into the life 
and eflence of religion; fo that thofe who habitually 
negledt it, we will not fay cannot be eminent Chrif- 
tians, but are no ChrilHans at all. Yet the bare exter- 
nal performanceof thii fervice does not neceilarily imply 
any real piety. Forms and ceremonies may be punc- 
tually obferved, and warmly contended for, without 
a (incere regard to God. Hypocrites may be exaft 
in their attendance upon divine worfhip, and value 
themfelvcs, becaufe they " make many prayers.'* 
They " draw nigh unto God with their mouth, and 
honour him with their lips, but their heart is far from 
bimj" and therefore " in vain they do worlljip 
him*." They would gladly be thought religious; 
and accordingly they comply with fuch inftitutions 
and rites of devotion, as are moft liicely to call them 
forth into public view, and procure them applaufe. 
Thus they may obtain the character of faints ; and 
this is the grand objedl^, which tliey aim at. But it 
is all, that they fliall have. From fuch perfons " in- 
cenfe is an abomination unto God,'* and their boafted 
fervices will increafe their condemnation. This wa6 
the very cafe of the Pharifees, whom our Lord de- 
fcribcd. They were fo fcrupuloufly obfervant of 
their ftated times of prayer, that they would not X)mit 
or delay the duty, on account of any company or en-* 
gagcment. Nay, it fhould feem, they contrived ta 
be in places of much refort at thofe very feafons, thaf^ 
the eyes of the multitude might be fixed upon them» 
and thus. their fancllty be remarked and celebrated^ 

In oppofition to this pra£tice, Jefus enjoins the 
fcligion of the clofct; not forbidding pubHc, but 
^omman(Jipg private, worfliip 5. \or rather Ihcwing inr 

* Mat. XY. 8, 9. 

■ H6- "^ 



<56 fciLirfMt* tBMt^crjaiB. 

Hfclit kmfmt *e filler OmU te pMfarKMi. ItHMM 
nbfurd and impipiift U^feek ^ Mdte^df mcfw ^iMtt 
dttr eofrieni li wiOl Odd $II^M. If {MfiMe^ we 
ftouM rettiid fftm ndMe and obfemitkivtMir>«e M^ 
KVdki iniei¥iMiHM% ainff aftjdMd» ti iialf ^ail ^Kf ft W i W 
tlM CcBtt «rf* »easM% sMNaed fitMrif AK 4ii^ afld 
liufiiitfll 4ff Iht worM. TKii cMiArtniM I^MMta 
0«i« mid lite feuTikMft, fiNHnrtffe ntlfn««ril^feMiMH 
tttM h6t» our fcfRMMh-ettMif,' aiid *^y;I«Qff'gMhl 
M rc(^ in tMaf lifet But Am!f c^'^'of'tffeilLMfff 6^ 
J9 u^n h» fnofte^ af tiofi^thMt' «MkAdMr ^Mert 
Ihtv wkbdmiKF fihoM Auiiito #haittyf6?falg^i wi « h^ 
Wm Hhvi ; airf Be nHir pfM&iitf stol- puM^^to^ W 
iflteibtod Hkitf erfe^ Aff hi9^6ihi gUttf ^* #«H as Hfelr 
iteoMpenTck, wkh' wHaT frci^aeiieyalid* A#ViK# dKf 
ktftf 1^ tb^r 'MtTtmitfe with If Avk . 

vim not our Lor^s it^an^m dttt^ die ttvM^ 
^rtfJF of ittaify? The¥e a^ ft<tf» aittMg eMrfifAl*^^ 
wh(H Nk« tile ancient Phari&tes, ifiiHik totMtpft tni 
clamorous profefliprt of religimi» cxprtti a dbddled 
preference fc>r thofe iervices, which bring them iiifd 
lM>tice, and Cake pains to catch the efteenf and ap- 

Saufe of the public. They may not fiand t& repeat 
eit prayers in the open ftreets, as thofe of bid r but 
do'diey not evince fofnethina; of the (iime orTpefitiony 
when thev are forward to cal the attention of Itthetv 
lo the ardour of their devotions? Mtf We nit lear^ 
ttizt among the multitudes, who conflaneljr tteid the 
courts of the Lord, manjr totally negleft the dutieif 
«f the clofct? In fuch a cafe, no latrifice is otkrtA 
to God; but all theif works are done to be *<ieetl e# 
■aen." ' 

^rom the feregQihg caution, Jtfm protteied to> 

further inftriU^tons for the framinj^ and prefect- 

' folemn addrefies to God. He ha^ direded 

k with ierious deliberation, anAiao vifmA 

i prolij(ity of exprei&ons^ which the bea* 

iied* All repetitions in imploclng the di* 



¥ine bleffing are not condemned ; for our Lprd^ him- 
fclfi three times together, in pouring out his foul 
before God, " faid the fame words ♦j" and itfecm» 
the natural cfkS of a pious fervour and importunity^ 
to urge the fame re()ueft again and again. But we 
are required- to abftain from' thofe repetitions oniv^ 
which are unmeaning, and not to fuppofe that a muU 
tiplicity of words will conftitute a good prayer, or 
procure us a favourable acceptance. It is neither ne^ 
ceflary nor expedient to protr^ our devotions to a 
tedious' length, as if we, could, thereby give any in- 
formation to God, or produce any change in his mind* 
We cannot, indeed, be too earneft, nor ought we to 
be weary of the fervice. But we (hould remember^ 
that we come to a God, who knows all our wants 
and defires, better than we can reprefent them, and 
who is more ready to beftow, than we to aflc^ hit 
bleffing. 

We behold alfo an inftance of the amazing cofl« 
defcenfion of Jefus^ in delivering to his diiciples a 
form of prayer, adapted to their ufe. He takes them> 
as it were, by the hand, lead& them to the throne of 
grace, inftru^s them what requefts they (hould make^ 
and even puts words into their mouths. The form> 
here pref^ribed, might be defigned as a general ma- 
de), by which we mav frame our petitions; but it 
Ibems alfo intended to be introduced among our other 
devotions, and offered to God, exadty as it is. Per- 
haps it was draiwn ap with a particular reference to 
the fitiiation 6f his Mlowers at that time ; but with 
ihe utmoft propriety it is flill continued as a futtable 
addrefs for Chriftians in all poflible circumftances ; . 
fance it is a clear and compendious reprefentation of 
their common defires and neceffities, and every ex- 
preffion in it is fuch as they may adopt for their 
ovnit 




t^Z scRirruitE CHAiAexE&i* 

We cannot h^rc give it ihii full 

gene f ill oLJ rvatiofi» niuit laffice* 

TIjC uitm4ucttoii Of tniOC^oDn tcaeh^s us tD tp« 
pro;ich to tiod with coaiukncc Mtd love^ ^s to a Fa- 
ther ccinecrnvd tor our wctlafc^ mnd jrrt t£^ ntaiT*'*'l 
the deepeft revcfcoce and bitmilltjr Im^oi-c Hm% viiii» 
U in heaven, And who there mgni in ^loriooi en^ 
jetly. When our mmds are thus impreilcd with fv^ 
able coaccptioitt of the God, wham we w rfhip^ we 
stay proceed to the petitions, which arc fix in number, 
tbe Chree Jiffl relating to the honour of God, the 
three htttr to the ni^ceffitief^ t)f man. VS'e pmr, 
therefore, thai the name of God may be hallowec^ 
that tho excellency and perfcdions of his nature rtii^ 
be icnown throughout the warld, said that every wheie 
He {my be regarded with all tb^t veneration, whidi 
is juflty due unto Him. For thi* purpofc we de&t^ 
thiU hit kmj<doiii of grace may he iitiiirerfally eAa- 
Uiflicd, aiid that ih;rGt?ipci, which isdeCgned znd ckl- 
culatcJ tQ jjuimotc it» may be fpread abroad with in* 
crcafmg cnerpy and fuccds. But fiacc this diipenfa- 
tton of mercy requires unfeigned obedience Ui God, we 

hitu* f'Ktt fl« qII 1111 U0**i%fj^t\ €n, *t\\ A«« i0A«4W «.A».b I ^ 



forfeited 2II clans to the S^vms iavmi: vrioL h n 
alwajs proper to carisk oar oranem. anc aejiAgLJu e 
the wnoh we iutc aebsvcd, ^e arL asinjn tb 
God, and liiUe to jnfiic c^ wsrsxnx we ifso. nac 
be would caficel tbe Uadc aoBDuni. anc m mor*: ut]^ 
bis deauDrk upoo &&. Here we -mnt aa. uoic nc 
bis p(omj&s in the new Ciwn 11 nil anc isEwe rszmch 
to him, as be is irvcajed tirausii sc iusdmxn: s 
God ^ far^hi^ izsqiiixT, anc iiaufc gfii pii- ars: ^.'* 
But, finer it is profaafiie is ^ jireenrfac of mmsszi 
a^siTSy ^"*! vc iBZT T«»t^mti priti'f. jDiinmii^ Tnscnieic 
uXMB ODKis, we are TcouTrsx mcnni^ xl uffi u>* fis>* 
fore God our readines x:* faiwii. fuL TT^'f^r.isk t» 
them, and oklj ta in^ore ns mem', s we car nr- 
don our G^nni% beriim;. SiiL aeixir ez9^^!:L' !» 
continual a'^fpTilri^ -m^ioA nrv cnaanss- our jniK, 
unleis God pRacr«>e us, we xenuefc tne Ht;. ^ was* 
keepetii liraf^** wsiui kf raios is anc drnvue vr i» 
in his proriie^ioB, tzac ar ncr inr se vr-jups. axfj 
crircumfiancet of jcrrre TrskL a: tjit lose wt max tie 
firengdsensd 10 orerrozits me irxxnnariax. Ir txrcsr 
to diis, we fepcibcaxr tne dri'inc aid, ir^ar -«? is^x- ne 
deliTered frocn tbe asaoa cf ine vizLet One. wuu 
is our grand adveriiBrT, and frosxi rverr tdis^ wuics 
is to be dreaded as a rcai rrii ix. m^ iiit 'jt anosier* 
In die coods&Ki of rioe proves, wnicx a a tiezfc^ 
logy or an aferipckn of praar :& r^^ we actfco'jw* 
ledge this m be Ae wari.p- -ptmcl nt ocierwes- and 
has a right a> oraiani; f.-Tce :^e s tne aarrtsiu) 9rc»«' 
vcreign, the AJtegL:r Poceoc^ce, ti* ^xtc « aU per- 
fecbcn, tbe n ioac^eiaCe Isfitnrir:, frvia C¥«rai!>rg 
to evcria^iicg. And, waLe we t: l^ Siticire aoc ^siT' 
nifr the Lord frx r. .5 prtzsum i^ rrt CKOtlaeacr, 
each o£ thee ccciLierztiMK wZ fizjiafc a pis. ^ 
which we maj e::sbxe oor recjetb. V«'e cor&m 
the whole, and again expreit oar ardent a^fflite^ sor a 
favour^le ^tpimz^ when wc add izT :i«t i^^ide^ 
.«' Am£k/' 00 So kC i( be. 



t6o scRirruRE character.^. 

In the form which Jefus here taught his difciples, 
the declaration, annexed to the petition for pardon d 
i\n^ is of lo much confequence, and, as it might ap- 
pe.ir to them, fo new and Angular, that he fuhjoined 
a particular real'on for i^ obferviiigi that God wiU 
receive no facrihce, except from the man, who is of 
a placable and forgiving temper. And is it thus that 
\vi* lilt up *)ur hands to the throne of grace? Do mi'C 
polVch inofc principles and afFcclions, which the worJs 
imply or call I'ori How often have we repeated the 
prayer without any holy, fpiritual defires, when \w. 
h.ivc neither felt nor underitood the fotce of the lan- 
guage ! And is this the worfliip, which we dare to 
ortcr to the heart-l'carching God ? For, as he is not 
to be impoicd on, or fatisfied like our fellow-crea- 
tures, with an uimieaning compliment, we may fear, 
kit our pretended devotions fhould provoke his indig- 
nation againll us. 

The fame caution, which Jefus gave re(pe£ling 
the two forementioned duties he extended alfoto 
another inllancc. 

3, Falling. However the folly, pride, and fuper- 
ftiti(wi of fomc perfons may have brought the practice 




JESUS CHRIST.- l6t 

rupt influence into our beft a<Slions» How pfepof* 
terous is it, to make a parade with that, which is in* 
tended to denote humiliation! We muft, there* 
fore, avoid all oftentatious difplay, which is fo com* 
jnon with hypocrites ; and, while with fincerity of 
heart and unfeigned contrition we pra^iife felMenial 
and mortification, wt (hall not pafs unobferved, nor 
faft in vain. Men may difregard or defpife us ; but 
God will gracioufly accept, and publicly reward, 
what is really dene untd hiiji, though we (hall not 
prefume upon any merit in ourfclves, as if we had any 
claim to his favour on the ground of juftice. But to 
what purpofe do we fpeak of abftinencc? For where 
•are thofe, who " crucify the flefh, with its afFcflions 
and lufts?" Who among us are willing to renounce 
any beloved gratification? Do not moft perfons plead 
for, and puffue with an infatiable avidity, every fea* 
fual pleafure ahd delight? 

In thefe feveral inftances, almfgiving, prayer, and 
fafting, the religion of Jefus inftruc^s us to fi* our 
fupreme regard upon God, as thd Judge, to whom 
alone we are accountable, and to be perfedUy un- 
concerned about human opinions and decifions. It 
commands us to look forward to a future day^ 
when alt hypocrify will be expofed and detefted, and 
the excellency of the true believer confefled and ad- 
mired. How many miftakes will then be reSrfied! 
** For that, which Is highly efteemed amongft men,'* 
wilt appear to be' ^^ abomri nation in the fight of 
God ♦.'* On the contrary, Jehovah will declare 
bis approbation of thofe, who had faithfully difcharged 
the duties of righteoufnefe in fecrct, though their 
names were caft out as evil : ands^ to the aftoni(hment 
of thofe, who had defpifed and hated them, he will 
proclaim, with high commendations, how much the/ 
have done for him, and appoint them a glorious re« 

* Luke xrU 15, 



i62 



SCRIPTURE CHARACTERS. 



ti iSiitinn for the mod private exertions of their cha- • 
rirv, j^icty, and iibiUnence, 

II. W'c arc required to beware of the love of the 
pre rent world. There is no fin, againft which the 
Saviour has delivered more or llronger cautions, than 
an inurdiuatc attachment to the concerns of this life, 
and pcrhni)s ihcre is none more dangerous to thefojl. 
It tVciju.nily lies concealed under the garb of a reli- 
j^io'13 p:\).'lMlion ; for men are apt to flatter themfclves, 
and cry *' l\-ace, peace," if they pradlife no grofs 
jnMj.ilty, approve of right doftrines, and give a re- 
rrr,\ ir attendance to the means of grace. Yet all this 
p. ay he, while the heart remains totally alienated from 
(xwd, and '' goeth after covetoufnef^." He, who is 
fulicitous only to promote his fecular intcrcft, and 
coiifequcntly immerfed in worldly care*, cannot pof- 
kh any proper regard to God^ or hi&own everMing 
welfare- Though decent in his conduct, orthodos 
m his notion^, conftant and exa£t in all external forrat 
and obfervanceSj he is juft as far from heaven as the 
drunkard and adulterer; perhaps n[io re foj as being 
lefs likely to apprehend his own danger* 

TKcre jnight be a peculiar fiiitabtenefs in our Lord's 




I 



JESUS CHRIST- 

jeS we propofe to ourfelves- For ouraftciSions and 
purfuits will be determinetl by the nature of that trea- 
fyre, which we defire tosttam. Bur, in order to de- 
clde anght on that which is motl valuable, a clear 
dircernmcnt is abfolutely necdfuL How ft all the 
body be djre^ed in its movements, if the eye be fij 
vitiated, that it cannot properly djllinguiih oi^e thing 
from another? Or how ftall the mind le.id us to a 
jtjft conclufion^ whilft it is under the influence of 
wrong nnaxfms and inclinations? There is a mental 
darknefs, which perverts the judgnient, and produces 
the mod fatal confequcnces. 

Is it fuppofed, that fomc happy expedient mav be 
found, by which religion may be made confident 
with an entire devoted nefs to prefcnt gain? No j It 
is tmpofBble: the love of God 2nd the love of the 
world cannot prevail in the fame heart. They are 
i\kt two adverfe mafter.s whofe commands and ex- 
pectations contradi£t and oppofe each other; fo that 
We cannot be fincerely attached to their different in- 
tercfts. We fhould, therefore, determine without 
delay, whom we will ferve, and inftantly renounce 
one of them. 

Do any plead, " I am not enflaved to the World ; 
I look not for real happinefs in it, nor feek great things 
to myfelf, biit am anxious only to fecure a comfortable 
fubfiftence?" It may be proper to remark, that our 
Lord's injun<£i:ions require us to lay afide all diftreiT- 
ing cares about the enjoyments or even the common 
fupports of life. His dire6lions on this head equally 
concern the poor and the rich. For, as in each fi- 
tuation the heart may be drawn away from God to 
prefent objeds, both are forbidden to indulge any ex* 
ceflive folicitude about their fecular affairs. 

We may apply the reafons, which Jefus has al- 
leged. God has given you life, and he is able 
maintain it. You may furely rely upon him for t\ 
continuance of that vital principle, which he \\21s ^t 



al- 
thcM 



t64 SCUIPTUKE CHARACTERS. 

cloudy bedowed upon you ; fmce he can as eafily pre« 
fcrve, as create. Behold the tender care, which he 
excrcifcth over inferior animals ! He conftanrly pro- 
vides fuftcnancc for the fowls, which are of far left 
value than you. But with all your anxiety, how little 
can you effc£l for yourfelves ! You cannot lengthen 
liMt your exigence one moment. Or, (hould you be 
diftrcilLd about procuring a fuitable covering for your 
body, we refer you to the flowers of the field. The 
I^ord (xod has clothed ihem with a gayer attire, than 
the moll fplendid monarchs can exhibit: and (hall vou 
be unwillliia: to iiuruft yourfelves with him? 

Bcfides, this worldly foUcitude, which may be ex- 
pe<!k"d to prevail in them, who k.now not God, is 
unfuit^ble and diQionourablc to your charader, who 
profefs to be his children. If God be your Father, 
he cannot be inattentive to vour wants. Is there 
not, alfo, a more glorious oojedt pro{>ofed to you^ 
•which demands your warmed afFed^ions and moft di- 
ligent purfuii? You cannot be too earneft in prepar- 
ini; for your eternal ftate : and if that be your firft and 
grand coaccrn, ;is it ought, every earthly care will 
appear comparatively fmall. But to fecure an admif- 




J£SL* CHRIST, %$i 

feafon^ in which you may find enough both to <Io and 
to fuffer. 

Such is the temper of mind, which Jefus has hi- 
culcatcd in his fermon on the mount; and (o fupcrior 
to the world mo ft all his difciples be. Yet thb is an 
excellency, which can be attained only by the know-. 
ledge of him- For " this is the viAory, that over- 
cometh the world, even our faith *.'* 

But how few appear to poiTefs that divine principle ! 
We perceive and lament the prevalence of a Phari- 
fiiical fpirit among ourfelves. Arc not moft perfons 
hnrricd away by an immoderate attachment to therr 
gain? And do not fomc, even of Chofc who profefs 
godlinefs^ betray a ford id^ unbelieving, diftratSed ftate 
of mind ? Wc need not advert to the multitude of 
open and profligate offenders^ for perhaps more are 
' deftroyed through the fatal in^uence of covetoufncfs, 
which may conlift with a fair charafter among men^ 
than by a:iy other fin whatever. Let us .beware, 
and examine, where is our peculiar danger. Let us 
watch and pray, left our hearts be totally engrofTed 
by thofe fccular cares, which may, to a certain 4e^ 
gree, be expedient and neceflary; and, remembering 
how very. poor is the rfcheft treafure, which can be 
attained in this life, let us " covet earneftly the beft 
gifts,*' and dcfire above ail things to pdlefs " the un- 
feaTGluble riches of Cbrift-** Amen* 



{ 



JES\3^ 



BCUnVMM CHAftACTUtjU 



JESUS CHRIST. 



SSGZ. IB* 



tieamclM/Sm rf mr ZsrJTs Jamm m OiimmtM 
v;bLi t£ giva vmamsfrmBkal Sr^^m* 4n»d>fth, 

We hivealreidTiierecivdIiiiQchof thecxcdleiior 
and importance of dK fennoiH wbiA Jefns delivered 
on the mount; anl the oondufioo, to whidi we now 
proceed, will appear equally intenefttng. We fluB 
meet with further proo& of the bolinefe of diat reKw 

J ion, ndiich he tang^t^ while we confider (he various 
iredions here given for the cgnduA of his difci* 
pics ♦• 

To guard them againft the cenforioos di^ditioft 
of the Pharifees, who were ever prone to condemn 
others in the moft rigorous manner, he commanded 
them to abftaia firom all raih and fevere juci^nienti 
** Judge not," is indeed an extenfive precmt. We . 
cannot help forming an opinion of diole aftions and 
chara6^ers, which force thenifelve$ upon our ob- 
iervation : nor are we forbidden, furely, to blame 
what is evidently wrong ; nay, our duty requires «» 
as we love our brother, to pomt out his faults to hhoi 
and warn him of his danger. But we are eojcMned 
oncludc againft any oerfon precipitately, ndt 
fluenccd in our deciubns by pride or. nulevo- 



JESUS CHRIST. l4jr 

lencc- Yet do wc not perceive amongft ourfelv es 
much of ihis very Tpirit, which prevailed with the 
Pharifees of old ? How few are afluatcd by that di- 
Vine principle of love, which " beareth all thingt^ 
telievcth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all 
things *!" Do not the various parties, who contend 
ia warmly for their refpe^flive fentiments and adhe- 
j 4-ents, both in polkics and religion, difcovcr a bitter 
and malignant difpofition? For how unwilling arc 
they to believe any thing fevourablc of each other^ or 
Xq make any candid allowance for the miftakes or the 
filings of their opponents f How keen in their re- 
marks J how glad to find any thing juflly cenlurable; 
iand how eager to fix names of contempt 2^n6 reproach, 
one upon the other! We need not enquire or affign 
a reafon for this, befidcs our own depravity, We 
need not inveigh again ft the bigotry and mai;fVolcncc 
.of pcrfons on this or on that fide of the queftioni 
fince thefe are the weeds, which fpring up in every 
foil, and are the natural produce of the human heart. 
^' The fpirlt thatdwdleth in us luflcth to envy |.'^ 

Jefus has fuggefted fome important confiderationSj 
which fhould deter us from forming any rafti judg- 
ment. Thofe, who are moft fevere in their reflec- 
tions upon others, need expedt no favour from their 
fellow-creatures. -Men will not be difpofed to par- 
don or palliate their mifcondudl ; but will greedily 
catch at an opportunity of requiting them with the 
fame acrimonious cenfures, which they have liberally 
dealt out. And what treatment may they look for, 
at the hands of a righteous God? flow will they 
ftand before him, when their characters are fcruti- 
nized with that rigorous exa6tnefs, with which they 
have decided upon others? He has determined, that 
*' they fhall have judgment without mercy, who have 
fliewcd no mercy J.'* 



• / Cor. xIJI. /. f Jmcs IV. 5, \ u, ij. 



i 




^68 iCKIPTritE CHAMACTEIt^. 

It Oioutd dh be conGdcfed, thut we are btitH 
^usili^cd to pds fcnteocc on mj^j pct(on% ^imuadaSt 
,V^w of their a£ltan«, in catnpartfun, fa!l uodcfwir 
notice, and, perhtips rf ^<^^ ^«w we fee not tk 
whole* Wc may nut unilcrAaiid ilicir iowaifxt pm* 
CipleS} or u'C may conclude too haftUy frcmi ipptn- 
uiKc%j which Jirc dcceitiki, or Irom m<^re rcf)ott% 
which arc gencialiy vague and unoectsin. If, how* 
ever, there be £bmcthiitg in their ifi£uiacr«^^ which m 
niuJl Gondemni may not ceriJ^iii exccn unions b« id* 
tnitted in their brhalf? We know fioc> under wiu5 
femptation^ and dHHcuUies they h^vc laboured* smj 
hgw much tb^y hd^fx been excluded from opportuiii* 
ties of inform;^tioa or admofvition- At leaft, a fenft 
cf our own ignorance suiJ Uablencfs to ci r* throufb 
prejudice and niirconceptionf fbould incline us to 
4xaw (he moft candid and charitable concluiiom } mi 
ithe remembr;mce of our own numerous and aggn* 
vated faults fliould deter as from rj>eaking evil of i£^y 

Jcfus ha<! inftrii£led us, likcwife, to loot welt to i 
,«ur fpifit and condu<fl, when we undertake to re- 
prove* Oar office in life, »nd out ch rift Ian duty in 



th€ love and power of fin, that it may be qualified to 
determine honeftly, and bring a true charge againft 
anoth£;r- " Caft out the beam out of thine own 
eye; and then fhalt thou fee dearly to cuft out the 
moce out of thy brother*s eye/' 

Prudence will require uSj alfo^ to confider the 
character of thofe, whom we may wijfh to rebuke or 
exhort* For there are fome fuch profane and bold 
C0ntcnincrs of every thing good and fcriou^^ tkit any 
folenin admonition would not only be loft upon them, 
bur excite In thetn the moft violent rclcntment;' 
which, befides bringing us into difficulties might 
caufe the name and the truth of God to be bhifphemed< 
Therefore the Saviour addsj " Give not that which 
k holy unto the dogs, neither caft ye your pearia be* 
fore fwinei*' and on the fame ground Solomon di- 
lects us, *^ Speak not in the Ciirs of a fooJ ; for he 
will defpife the wifdom of thy words */' 

The caution, probably, may be abufed, and urged 
in defence of that cowardly difpofition, which is afraid 
of oppoting fin upon any occafion whatever. While, 
therefore, we plead for prudence and referve, let us 
endeavour to regulate our conduct, not by worldly 
motives, but by a fupremc defire to promote the glory 
of God. Jt may be difficult, in particular cafes, to 
determine the line of propriety and duty, or ft ill more 
difficult topurfueit; on which account wefhall have 
need of couflant application to the God of all grace, 
for his guidance and alliftance. Jefus, therefore, 
proceeds to inculcate fervour and importunity in 
prayer. We feek not for an exa6l connexion in the 
different parts of this difcourfej yet exhortations to 
call upon God appear fvt once to follow very fuitably 
from the preceding fubjeft. 

It is faid, however, " Though our work be ardu- 
ous, our petitions to God can avail us nothing. He 

* PfOYt xxiii, 9. 

Voz.m. I knows 



t ■ 



i ■ 



.fit 
rf 



t w: 



: ... "c!.". c cc; 












-T c: 






the C'..!t:v3ti-r c;" h:= ^rciir.i, hr c*.:^:: 
jiiftiy (kuTVt'm the time of harvcft. 

In making known our rtqoHls unto Go^ ^ 
{\nA\U mn bt: fati^fi^d with cold ami faint wifiics: fot 
iill I he vijour, which the foul is capable of excning^ 
i% rcijuirtd in this bufinefs* We are, tbcixfore, coffi- 
inarj^icd lo *' afkj feeJf. and Jcnock;'' to *«a4v' ai 
b<4f* whn feel the moik prefEng rrcHHtier^ and an- 




Tias the divine drckration bwn f:l"lf:rJ. ^e fbcj'd 
form larger and more hor^urabJe concrr*i:>-^? '>f trie 
goodnefs of Gcd; for Jefu? ha? h?'e tat^rht l* to 
confider him es s tender 2r.dlov»rg Farher, \-.r:o c:.3- 
not fport with the ir-iferies rf his CE-ar oJfpring, or 
mock them when they cry for h?]p. A {rricinj ap- 
peal is made to the ferfirgs of every pirerit, to deter- 
mine the cafe- For fu:h a moniier h fcarce];. iq be 
met with, as can irXu.t over his children in diftrcfs, 
and, inftcad of nrinifieri^-.g to their recefliry fjpprrt, 
give the:ii :hit 7.'hich woj-d be an -r." jrv rathjr th^n 
SL benefit. And fliail the God of heaven bs lef? Jci:J 
and cotTipanionatc than we, who itj depraved ltA 
^erverfe from cur very birth ? 

But what efFecl fliould the mercy of God produce 
in us ? It Ihould render us net only fcrrvent in prayer 
ta him, but upright asd faithful in cur dealing?, at- 
tentive and benevolent^ one to another: nor is it 
poffible, that we can feel any real dsn-otioii towards 
God, unlefs we have learned to exercife juflicc and 
tendernefs to our fellow-creatures. Hence Jefu« ha$ 
inferred the neceffity of obfer\ing, what is ufuilly 
called, the golden rule of equity, that we fhould treat 
all men, as we could with reafon expect them to treat 
us in fimilar circumftances. This contains a per- 
feft fyftcm of ethics; at leaft, from this one fimp'e 
dire^ion every mor£l duty may bs deduced. It ex- 
hibits the fubflance of all that the law and the pro- 
phets have enjoined, concerning our relative obliga- 
tions. The propriety and excellency of the precept 
muft be generally allowed, fince it calls upon every 
man to judge between his neighbour and himfelf. 
If he doubt, what line of conduct he (bould purfue 
towards another, let him fuppcfe, for a moment, a 
mutual change of fitudtion, and then aft, what iifage 
he could faiily look for from him. He cannot help 
drawing a right conclufion. Yet how Uttie ?iXXtu\AO\\\s 
paid to this rule! MoA perfons feem to 2^ vvpow cots 

1 2 u^a^ 



171 SCmPTUlE CHAiACTEltS. 

tfiftttj ar>d (M&i prmciples, as if they were the only 
people, whofc advaiiiagc and comfort ought to bi 
consulted: and few iiideeil, comparatrvdrv demean 
thcmfclvcs in life with a real and difmtcreftcd intc- 
giity, VVc lament the difmgcjiuoufnefs we meet 
with in the world ; but dii we examtne ourfdvesJ 
Or rather, dti wc not pra^tife the mo ft awful felf-de-- 
lufion, and footh our conicicnce with a falfe peace? 

Religion, however^ Is a folemn buHnefs, wfeicb 
canaot be managed, to any good effect, with a dupii* 
city or indifference of mind* So our Lord proceed 
to admonifh us* If we would fave our inn mortal foulsj 
we muft be in earneft ; and as many obftacles tn^ 
awak us^ our utmoft exertions will be requirrA 
At the very otifct, much is to be done and fufferedj 
wc muft *^ enter in at the ftrait gate/' 

Two different ways arc propofcd to our confidera* 
tion : and we ought to deliberate very ft-Tioufly, which 
road we (hould take. The fir ft, which offers, feems 
to poflefs £bme advantages. *^ The gate is wide:" 
it is readily found; and admiiTioii may be obtained 
without difficulty. There are no difagreeable re- 
ftraijits to deter us, efpecially as *^ the way is bro^;** 



JESUS CHRIST^ 173 

ftrcwed in the way, to tempt unwary pilgrims j but 
how terrible will the end be ! " Blackncfs of darknefs 
for ever!" Many afFe<a to difbelieve it; but the 
mouth of the Lord hath fpoken it, and he will ,exe- 
cute his own denunciations. Ah ! foolifh people, 
andunwife! Sport no longer on the brink of final 
ptrdition; but inftantly ftop,. or rather, endeavour 
to make good your retreat without delay. 

Another road is propofed, which is attended with 
fome difcouraging circumftances ; but let us confider, 
of what fort they are, and what influence they fliould 
have. ** Strait is the gate:" it requires mature 
thought to difcover it, and many ftrenuous efforts to 
gain admiffion. In order to enter in, we mufl: con- 
fent to certain painfuj feparations, for we muft part 
with many things which we might wifh to retain, and 
cxpeS violent oppofition from our neareft relatives 
and aflbciates. If there are fuch obftacles at the very 
beginning, what will be the remainder of the journey ? 
Throughout the whole, even to the very clofe, our 
corrupt nature will diflike it. " The way is nar- 
row;" fo that we (hall be conftantly in danger of de- 
viating from it. The reftraints, alfp, which are im- 
pofed^ the various fiiares, laid for the travellers, and 
the refiftance made to their progrefs, may difcou- 
rage and diftrefs them : for moft perfons are unwilling 
to combat with difficulties. It may be aiked. Who 
are they, that walk this road? And here, perhaps, 
another obje£lion will be raifed, fince " few there he 
that find it." It is not pleafant to be marked out 
and derided, as precife and Angular ; and on this very 
account many will refufe, and turn afide from, a path, 
which is fo little frequented, determined to be like 
their neighbours. Befides, the company upon this 
road is^ not only fmall, but of fuch a fort, as to dif- 

fuft thofe, who are devoted to worldly purfuits. 
or " not many wife men after the fleili^ wot t«a.v>.^ 
I 3 ttCv^ 



1^4 iCltirraa^ CQAKACT£tt9. 

f&>SbtTt noi nuR^ nobl^ arc called * :" (a that Ati^ 
who ire C0 " tread tbe narrow way,*' muft be t*iI- 
ling to be acccMinceid of a urcftk undcrftandingf a^d of 
a mean, ccmtcfPptiMe (pint. 

Bur will you not cfiqutre^ what will the i0Ue be^^ 
Aim) wi!l it not at o»cc fix j«mr rcfolution, to hear 
thai " it IcT^^lh tirjto life V* OrJjr pmer by the ip- 
pomtej gatf^ and \>^t(trtTC in .the patb s^^xlbcdi 
and ;fOtt will be eternally bapf>y with jour God* It 
wi'il inlainbly conjiic^ you to heaven; for every ai«^ 
^u endyrcih uji^o the end> fh.Ul be put in cotnplete 
and everlatimg pofTefiiDn of that ku^gdom of fell {sand 
glory. For the prefcnf^ florms and temp^fts may 
beat upon yov^ briers and thorns fnay obiirudl yaar 
progrefs; but hM on your way, ^nd Toon fliall yoiiS 
I'ilgrimage be fimfhed, wbeo you Oiall p;inak£ o? 
that fiilnefs of joVj and thofe ple^fiires, which are a? 
God's right hand for evermore* Does there a doubt 
remain? O credit the declarations of hiin, who can- 
not lie: and delay not, for a moment, a bufinefs of 
uafpealcablc importance? Whatever painful rtruggle* 
it may coil you, as you value the falvation of your 
foul> {I rive to gain admiffion at the only dooti t^ 



fSSlXS CHUIST. 175 

^fe jmtf mifchievous : they arc enemies to the flock 
of God, which it is their aim to fcatter and deilroy: 
for ^'^in vvariJly they are ravening wolves." '^ Be A'are," 
fcys the great Shepherd *, be cautious, what credit you 
give to the claims anJ declarati.-ns of thole, who put 
on the fair (hew of piety, and undertake to iniiru.t 
pthers. 

Is there> then, anv fure teft, by which their fincc- 
rity may be ^ied? Th(: general tenour of their con- 
dudl will.furnilb thcmoftdecifive proof. " Ye (hail 
}tiio-v them by their ^fruits*'* The nature of a tres^ 
ks always de;tcrauned .by its invariab'e prwijce. 
That onlyy which yields focaeching ufrful in Hk-, is 
allowed to be really good: an^l that, which, howe^^er 
^eautifui in its appearanc?, brings forth nothing bi:t 
what is n(>xious or worth! efs, will not lo:«g be f if- 
fercd to ftand^ " it Is nigh unro curfing, aa>i its cad 
is to be burned *.'* The fubjed is applicable to thofe 
y/ho receive, as well as thofe who give, inilrudion; 
and it is^ therefore incumbent upon all to enquire of 
themfelves, Are thercany fruits of righteoufnefs to br 
found in mc? If we hive nothing^ more to exhibit, 
fhan the leaves and bloiToms of a religious profeflion, 
we may juftly dread that fentence, ^* Cut it downj 
why cumbereth it the ground?" 
. It were abfurd to attempt any inipofition upon Je- 
^s by an hypocritical fbew. Irk requires a fincere and 
finiform obedience;: nor will he be fatisAed by the 
ftrongeft declarations of high regard, where there is no 
intention to pleafe him> no (Irenuous endeavours to 
f]o his will* Expreffions of edeemare cheap: and are^ 
ihjefe all th^t you look for from your friends ? If you 
perceive in them .^ continual neglect of your wi*ies^ 
^d an oppqfition to your known i«tereft, you will 
pot credit thpir words. Nay, you will account 
ibeix) as your enemie^^ who with their mouths pretend 




176 SCRlrTURl CHARACTERS* 



a cordial attach me jit to you^ the better to carry on 
forti c li o ft 1 1 e de fig ns a gai n ft y o u • A ceo rd ingl y, Jefus 
alEtres ui^^ that all thoie, who (hall be found ** workers 
of iniquity,*' fhall be difowned by him in the grat 
day, and fcntenccd to aji cverlafting reparation from 
him, howevrer they may be able to plead, that they 
have been zealous advocates for his truth, and emi* 
nent officers in his Churchj pDllefTcd of diiluigui^ed 
gifts for the benefit of others. How tremendoas is 
the declaration! Can any more forcible argument be 
fuggcfted, which miy induce us to examine^ with 
true ferioufnefs of mind, What are we ? Does <m 
conduft, as well as our language, evince an unfL-ignd 
regard to the Saviour f Or what reception may wt 
e^cpecfe from him, when he will come to exhibit eveij 
cTiarafter in its true light, and execute an impartial 
judgment upon all? 

iiO ff^lemn were the admonitions of Jefus to Kit 
hearers ! The clofc of the fcrmon may be confidered 
as a pratSlical application of the whole^ and may ht* 
nifh his minifters with an excellent model for tbeit 
public addrelFes to the people* He fepa rated and di- 
vided his audience into two chJTe&j and it will, rn 
i^eneraL be oroi^r and necel&rv to diflin&'Ujfh our 



JESUS CHRIST. 177 

pending ftorms. For fuch trials, probably, will foon 
come upon them, as will prove, that they ftand on 
firm ground, and that their houfe of defence is im- 
movably eftabli(hed. Is the miniftry of the Gofpel, 
then, precious unto us? And are we giving heed to 
the precepts, as well as to the promifes ? Our obe- 
dience, doubtlefs, is defective : but does the general 
pradice of our lives evince our fincerity ? If fo, being 
accepted of God according to his Covenant, we (hall 
be preferved in Ae hour of temptation, fupported and 
comforted in the pains of diflblution ; and in the fo- 
lemn day of accounts^ when the hope of the hypo- 
crite (hall periih, we (hall maintain a holy confidence 
and joy before the prefence of our Judge. 

But there are thofe, who conftantly attend upon 
the word of God, and yet regulate not their conduft 
by it. It is proper to deteft their hypocrify, and, if 
poffible, to difcover them to themfelves, that they 
may be awakened out of the dreams of felf-deceit, and 
alarmed by a faithful reprefentation of their danger. 
They hear the fayings of Chrift ; and fo far it is well : 
but they do them not. The preaching may pleafe 
smd aftonifh them; but it has no pradical influence 
upon their tempers and cqnver&tion ; fo that they 
continue as covetous, fenfual, and malicious as ever. 
How abfurdly do they aft ! By their religious fervices, 
they feem to be preparing a houfe of defence; and 
they flatter themfelves with fecurity. But the feafon 
is approaching, when their folly will be expofed. 
Their building wiH not ftand againft thofe tremen- 
dous tempefts, which may be expefted to arife. It 
has no foundation, not being eftablifhed upon the 
rock; and therefore the very firft ftorm, which beats 
upon it| may level it with the ground, and bury 
them in its ruins. 

And have we not occafion to lament, ^s Jefus did, 
that many feem to hcfar in vain? Many, who neglect 
liot |he ordinances, ire remifs in \Vie cottx'T^ow Suvvis 

1 5 .^ 



c nd merit Jit bo^i^ 

t to trufl tt> ihfti I 

is Gufpcl, noi i» t 

:iar ihcy hire pfo* ^ 



of life Wc rejoice ro perceive their attenlkm t 
churchy but gncvc eo c^icr>'c >iO amendment lit bo^i^ 
Wc fukmnly warn dic^n* thco, not 
profciEons of regard taChrlft and his 
flat tf r t b emfcl v c^> oil ch i f gr t- a j ] d, ' tlia r 
vided a place oif fafcty. The tcmpefluous 
CDmingi and wo be to all ihoic, who have bui . 
hftufe upon the (and \ Go4 ** w»!I laj judgment to tttc 
Ihie, and nghteouineft to the plummet i and the Ull 
Ihall fweepattrity the refuge of licp^ and (he wjtm 
fiwil overflow the hidinj-plaec */* Ht*rror and la- 
guifh into receivable niiift enfue^ when they*i^ wbo 
*' were exahcd to hciivei/' in ihdr religious privilc>ci, 
" fliLilI be thruft down to heli'* to fuiFer the veageance 
of eternal fire. 

Such wa$ the import of (his awfu1» poineed^and 
aWiikenlng fermonj vvhkb Jefus preached upon the 
iiiount, *' The people were aftonifhed at bi^ doC"^ 
trine;" ant?^ as to many, thi* was all the e^eci prc^* 
duced* Yet what does it avail, merely to expisfsart 
admiration of the f^^^ktr^ while the truth delivered^ 
is rcjeftcJ With fcorn? Soon it will be faid, '^ Bi*' 
hold, yc dcfplfcrs, sind wonder, and periflj f /' JuftljV 
intleed, raishE the audience of Tefus be ajiia:Eod; fur, 



Let all the hearers of the Gofpel make the appli* 
ration to themfelves. It is Jefus, who yet addreiles 
^ou by the mouth of his fervants, and to him your 
ittention is demanded. What influence, then, have 
she truths, which ace preached, produced in your 
minds ? You may have been aftoniflied, but have you 
been truly converted by them? Remember, with 
ivhom you. have to do; it is One, whom you can- 
not deceive. Though with demure appearance you 
tread his courts, if you work iniquity, he will fearch. 
It out, and finally rejeft you with contenipt a^d ab- 
horrence^ He fpake on earthy and much more. 
will he fpeak from heaven " with authority/' when 
he (hall come with power and great glory, as the- 
Judge of quick and dead. ** But who may abide the 
day of his coming ?» and who fliall ftand when he ap- 
peareth * ?" There are thofe, who will '^ have con- 
fidence, a^d not be aihamed before him at his com- 
ing t«'* But there are multitudes, even in hi$ vifi- 
ble. Church, whofli^l then be overwhelmed with con-* 
fufion, whilft h9 will pronounce, the tremendous and 
irre^yeriible fentence, ^ I never knew you: departs 
from me." 

<^ The Lord gr^nt uoto us,, that we may find, mtrcr/: 
of the Lord in thatday!*' Amen. 

*. Mai*, ill*, 2« *]: i]9^ ii. 2%^ 



1 6 "^t^^^ 



I So 



SCRIFTUILE CHAEACTEES. 



JESUS CHRIST. 



SECT. IS. 



y^ii keaUd a Uper^^ntlnd int$ the wildernefs — at* 
temdid by Pharifees and D§Gors^^ured a paralfUt 
'^caUid MattbiWj the publican — vifited bim^ whm 
mary Publicans were prejcnt^ujlijied bis difcipki 
Ur tkeirfric and facial manmr of life. 

In every part of our Lord's public mimftry, we 
Hull find him attended, through hb different naovc* 
mci.ts by iauncnfe multitudes. The dodrine?, 
which he'preachcd, and the miracles, which he per- 
formed, generally brought together a large concourfe 
of people J tho-igh but few in comparTfon feem ^ 




JESUS CHRIST. l8l 

Among the crowds, which followed Jefus, after 
his fermon on the mount, was a poor unhappy ipan^ 
" full of leprofy */' A malady this, which was pe« 
culiarly diftreffing. For, not to obferve that it was 
moft ofFenfive, painful, and dangerous, the Jewifli 
law excluded all perfons, infe£led with it, from pub- 
lic worfhip, and from a free intercourfe with fodety, 
forbidding them to dwell in any town. How wretched 
their fituation! Here was one, who, being deeply 
imprefled with a fenfe of his own mifery, earnefrly 
implored relief. When he faw Jefus, having heard 
of his chara£ter and his wonderful works of mercy, 
he applied to him with much importunity, and with 
evident figns of a real dependence upon him, though, 
j)robably, not without a mixture of unbelief He 
worfhipped him, falling d«wn on his face before him, 
and very ardently befought him to extend his com- 
paiTion to him. " Lord," faid he, « if thou wilt, 
thou canft make me clean." With a full confidence 
of his power, he yet feemed to entertain a doubt of 
bis willingnefi, to heal him. What a picture of dif- 
trefs was here! An afflifted creature, deprived of 
the main comforts of life, fhut out from friends and 
relations, loathfome in the fight of others, and bur- 
denfome to himfelf, defpairing of obtaining deliver- 
ance from men, and now proftrate as an humble fup- 
plicant at the feet of Jefus ! And did the Saviour ever* 
turn away from fuch an objed, or.difregard fuch an 
application? No; his heart was ever fufceptible of 
the tendereft pity; and, therefore, no fooner was the 
defire exprefled, than it was granted in its full extent. 
For inftantlv, at his word, the malady was removed,- 
and a perfe^ cure wrought. He upbraided not the 
leper with his diftruft, but, to demonflrate that his 
grace is equal to his power, and that he is as ready as' 
he is able, to relieve every needy petitioner, which 

* Mat* Till. i<i*4. Milk U 40mm^^. Luke v. ii..-\%. ^ 



184 SCniPTURE CHAHACTBRS, 

tern J fct before ms: alas ! how defe^ive are the moft 
cmment of his followers! In mithingj perhaps, do^ 
they fail more^ than in the improvcrnent of their Ici- 
furc for devotional purpofes. And is not this holy 
retirement neglei5ted> bccaufe It requires the mok 
lively^ fpiritua) afFe£ttonSj and flatters not the canity 
of the mindj by exciting the admiration of others. 

J(.'fus» however, was foon called forth again to 
public view and afttvity* Though it might have been 
pleafmg to himfelf to have fpent a longer feafon in 
iblitude, he could not be unmindful of the multitudes, 
who flocked after him, and therefore for their faiccs 
he returned to his former exertions *• Upon his 
coming back to Capernaum, immenfe crowds at- 
tended him^ to whom he preached the Gofpclp 
Amongft thefe were fome perfons of higher ftation 
and more refpcsSiable appearance^ than thofe who 
ufnally reforfed to him i ^* Pharifecs and Do<^ors of 
the law." ^It is but feldom that men of nuik or con- 
fcquence in the world pay any ferious regard to the 
word of God; and therefore we may be difpofed to 
wonder that thefe made part of the congregarian* 
But it is remarked of them, that " they v^ ere fitting 



. 1> ^^ *C *L-.„ ^^ ..^--ll„ .^- 



JBSUS C^IST. 185 

The minifters of Chrift ire often placed in a fimi- 
lar fituation, being furrounded bv thofe, who are un- 
friendly, and difpofed to find fault. Such hearers 
may properly be faid to be " fitting by;'* for they 
come to pafs their judgment on the fermon, not to 
be inftru^ed from it; and, therefore, they criticift 
both the preacher and his dodtrine with malevolence 
and feverity. The fervant of the Lord, however, 
though his own feelings may be hurt, mufl ftill per- 
fift in the faithful difcharge of his office, nor conceal 
any part of the truth, even while he knows that be 
(hall excite oppofition by it. 

When Jefus was thus attended, a poor difabled 
paralytic was brought before him. The crowd about 
the houfe prevented all accefs to him ; but fuch was 
the eager nefs of the affiided man and his friends to 
obtaro relief, that with great pains and difficulty he 
v/as taken up to the roof, and let down by cords, 
probably into the court yard, where our Lord might 
be preaching. • 

Perhaps, this particular method of application arofe 
from ignorance and unbelief, as it feemed to imply, 
that the Saviour could not work the cure at a dif- 
tance. He' did not, however, upbraid them with 
their weaknefs; but, cohfidering their condudt as an 
evidence of faith, he received them gracioufly, and 
encouraged the palfied perfon by an ailurance of the 
pardon of his fins. A bleffing this, which does not 
appear to have been folicited or defircd. But fo free 
and extenfive is the mercv of our God, that all, who 
apply to him with real fincerity of heart, fhall find 
him ^^ able to do exceeding abundantly above all that 
they afk or think." * 

The declaration of Jefus, . which denoted his fovQ- 
reign raajefty and divine power, difpofed his captious 
hearers to raife a formidable objedion againft him. 
They argued within themfelves, that he was guilty of 
the groffefl impiety in the claim^ which Vv^ \\aA ^^x. 



l8& fCRIPTURI CllA^ACTtnS^ 

up. Tlirir pontlon vir^.true, that tior^e c^n fomvc 
t\m but God aloiJCi jct thcU CDncIufioiil/ thaV _^lJii 
haJ fpoLca bhifphinTiy, w;4S f-ilfe. They knew mi^ 
ffiiJ woulJ not bi^litvc, ihfHjgh the cUartH cviduicc 
was given, tbdC he fkiilliflcd the pe* U;.:^ i »ns QiDcl)\ 
suidj thcrtforcf, that the forgivciicrs of fuu btjojjgci 
to himi as his high prcrcjgjtive* He rt:piicd to tu 
charge^ even before they baJ <]axcd ;o avow it^ an|i 
thereby diTcovercd his lutiaiattz acquafntapce %it4J 
t?iefr very thoughts. Who, tljen, can tljislje/th^i 
cjllcLh men to account for the imagination of thaf J 
hearts? He prcp-jfcd to exhibit fufficient proor, bjl 
ijilbintJy rcftoring the poor cripple before them id- 
health and vigour, that he hdd not btca g*'ilty of I 
Viirij prefumpturms bn^id^ and tbertfprt^ with all 
the majt^fly ai;d authority of a dlwiae pca'ljfi, ii'* 
with a view to (hew his fall right to parjor) olfdtJ* 
crs, he thus addreffed the man, " I &y unto tbee^ 
A rife, and take up thy bed, and go thy way iiito thiiic 
houfe/' 

The word was effedual i for iromf diately the pa- 
ralytic received ftrcngth, fo that he departed without 
klftftancCj afcribing gjory to God. This cxciccd % 
acaeral amazement and coiiftcrpatipfi amoiiA 1)$ 



JESUS CHRISTY 187 

ji€fs agalnfl: us^ that our trarrfgreffions are very many, 
let us go to him with an humble reh'ance upon his 
mercy, and fay, " Lord, thou only canft remove my 
load of guilt; extend thy compa/fion to me; affare 
me of thy favour ; and fpeak peace to my foul, that I 
may depart with deepeft impref&ons of -gratitude an^^^ 
love, glprif}ing God.*' 

As lefus retired from Capernaum toward the fea- 
fhore, he fixed his eye upon a certain publican, named' 
[Klatthew or Levi, who was bufily employed in his 
occupation, as a tax-gatherer, ^* fitting at the receipt 
jof cuftom,." and immediately called him to be his 
Jifciple*. The office of publicans was odious to 
the Jews, and^ as their bufinefe expofed them tp 
many temptations, they were generally perfons of an 
infamous chara6ter;: fo that it became proverbial to 

i'oin " publicans and finners" together. But by our 
l^ord's conduiEt we are taught to defpife no man^ 
whatever he may have been. Jefus can pardon, and 
can fanftifyy and difdains not even thofe,, who have 
been moft atrocious offenders : nay, he feem^ pur-t 
pofely to have chofen fome of this very ftamp, that 
he might difplay the greatnefs of his mercy, and tQ 
encourage the hopes t)f ail, -who are willing to fubmit 
unto him, however defperate ' their cafe may appear 
to be. In certain infiances, we perceive, he has 
Jbught after them, without waiting for their applica-^ 
tion, and conftrained them, by the difcovery of hi* 
]ove and the influence of his Spirit, to forfake their 
beloved purfuits, and to follow him^ 

Such, we apprehend, was the cafe of Matthew. 
He v/as immerfed in. all the hurry of bufinefs, whicb 
was advantageous, though not honourable, probably 
without any ierious care or defire of a fpiritual na* 
ture, whenJeCis looked upon him, and required him 
t» renounce his fecular gains, and become one of his 

« MtiL hu 9.. Mark. ii. 13^ 14. Lukft y» 7:j , ^%• 



lS8 SCRIPTURE CHARACTERS. 

flz^p'.kd attendants. Many, alfo, among ourfelves, 
vho fccTi not to hjvc had any previous preparation 
of heart, any I'olemn confideration or convictions of 
religion, are fiiddcnly awakened in the midft of va- 
riolic fchicir.es of vanity and fm, A thought is darted 
in upon their min:!<, a? quick and as eflf^ilual asdic 
worti fpokcn to Matthtrw, in confequence of which 
they immcd ately covet and leek for that acquaintance 
with Jefu?, whicii thev difdained before- The tran- 
firioii from one count: to another is rapid ; and the 
chaPL'e, in every vie at of i:, is truly wonderful. Yet, 
we fee, it is eaiy for Him, who has accefs to the con- 
fcience, to proJuce it in an inftant. The call given 
to Miuthcw, iho-igh urged upon him by no motives 
or pcrfu^ifions whitevtr, went with a powerful im- 
preffion to his heart, and fuccecded. He " conferred 
not with flefh and blood," but obeyed the fummons 
without hefitaticn, cheerfully relinquifhing his lucn- 
tivc pol^, and entering on the fervice of a poor and 
dcfpifcd Mafter. '' He arofs, and left all, and fol- 
lowed him/' From that time he u-as numbered 
amont^ the difciplcs of Jefus, and afterwards chofea 
to be an Apoftle. 




JESUS CHRIST. 189 

God in Chrift Jefus ? It matters little, in what way, 
or by what particular means, this has been efFeftca: 
but are we really influenced to follow the Saviour? 
Matthew, doubtlefs, was condemned for his conduft, 
as a wild vifionary or a weak enthufiaft : nor need 
wet wonder, if we come under fuch cenfures for our 
attachment to Jefus. " Let us go forth, bearing his 
reproach," and be folicitous only to approve ourfelves 
unto God. 

Some time after this occurrence, we find the young 
convert entertaining his beloved Matter at his own 
houfe. It may not be eafy to fix the precife date of 
the vifit ; but perhaps it will be moft fuitable to con- 
fidcr it here, while Matthew's charafter is before us. 
Perhaps to fhew his grateful regard to the Saviour, 
and to recommend him to the notice and efteem of 
his former acquaintance, at leaft to give them an op- 
portunity of receiving benefit from his converfation, 
he provided a large feaft, at which he invited many 
publicans, and others of a fimilar ftamp, to be prefent 
■with Jefus *. We admire the condelcenfion of this 
exalted Gueft, who was willing to mix with any com- 
pany, where there was a profpeft of ufefulnefs, and 
who, upon the occafion now mentioned, converfed 
in a familiar manner with perfons of an ignominious 
reputation. But his condudl again called forth the 
ennrity of the Scribes and Pharifees, who, with a 
pretence of fuperior (andlity, held all others in the ut« 
moft contempt, and could not bear that favourable 
notice fhould be taken of any befides themfelves. 
They feemed to infinuate, that Jefus, by a free com- 
munication with men of an infamous charafler, ap- 
peared as the i^tron of iniquity. He replied, that he 
did not maintain an intercourie with them, as a par- 
taker or encdurager of their evil deeds, but from a 
real defire to fave their precious*fouls, juft as a phy- 

^ Matt. ix. io^i7» Muk lU 75-«»Z2» Lukt v« %^ ^c% 



T0^ fCRIPTtrEl CrtAK ACT Efts, 

ficbo vifits his ptiertts, to htal ami reftorc tbcnu Hi 
oVftrvcJ, ihat his buCneft proptily ky stttK^igft thofe| 
^ho reality ;ictnowIedgc^ chcmftlvc^ fuiacrsj oia? 
at icalV il>in with fuch as ^cre fo conceited ik thsit 
own riglia-cafjici's, thai ihey difdatncd tbeciSWofl 
Saviour. He intim-^teJ, howeVLT, tliar, while be 
flic wed a regard to the nmft ab^inJ^^ncd, bis objeft 
was, " to call them to repentance,'* aiid thachcrtia 
he performed an a£i of mercy more acceptable ta 
GofJ, than any ceremonial obfcrvancc*^. 

The minifters of Chrilt are ccnrurcd in the finie, 
niaimcr^ whenever they are folbwei, ^.s h frequeirfy 
the c;^rCj by perfons who have been irrv'ji/br arj 
profligate in their conduct* It is^ Ai^gefteJ, if not 
openly afTcrted, that their tlo^rinc is favourable ta 
the purpofes of ItcentifnifnefsF, as jf it alloweil n^ento. 
<antiT)iie in their evil praOieef, This is f*iicl, flf 
liinted^ by thofe^ *' who truft in them fe Ives, that thfij 
are righteous, and defpife others/* But we wodd 
admoniih them, that in fuch a len^ip^r o^ mind thcf 
are Cf all others mofi oppofice to the G ci^id^^a^d (kf* 
theft from the kingdom of heaven, ** Miny that arc 
f]rfl Ihall belafl-, and the hft fliall be firft/' Th^ 



JEStJ^ CHllISTft igi 

cation 'would be unfuitablc to their fituatiofl, as they 
were then rejbicing: in the prefence of the heavenly 
Bridegroom. He had, alfo, another reafon to often, 
which he illuftrated by certain fimilitudes taken from, 
the common concerns, of life. Some of thofe, whom 
he had attached to himfelf, had been ftrangers to that 
hlimiliation, which would afterwards be neceffary for 
them; ani therefore, in a wife and compaffionate re- 
gard to their weaknefs, and even to their former pre- 
judices, he would not put them upon fevere trials or 
duties, for which their ftrength was infufEcient, but 
he defigncd to lead them on gradually, as they wer« 
able to bear it. A difFcrent treatment might have 
h"ad the worft cfFcfts, in making them averfe to his 
fcrvice, which they might be difpofed to confider as 
rigorous and intolerable. 

This exhibits a pleafing reprefenfation of the man- 
ner, in which he deals with his people now. He 
proportions their difficulties to their ability. Many 
things, both in do6!rine and pra<SJ:ice, .to which they 
would violently objefli; upon their firft converfion, 
thw are brought by degrees to fubmit to, approve, 
aha adtnii-e. When they enter on the Chriftian 
<:burfe, they are generally favoured with peculiar con- 
fdlations, and know little of thofe burdens, by which 
.others are oppreflei. The Bridegroom is with them y 
and they rejoice in his prefence. Indeed, he never • 
deferts them ; but as they advance in wifdom, ftrength, 
and courage, he calls them out to feverer cxercifes ; 
and then frequenfly the clear manifeftations of his 
love are withdrawn from them, and they are weighed 
down with many heavy affli£lions and temptations. 
Such was the divine condudl: towards the children of 
Ifrae!, when they were led about through the wilder- 
nefs, and not by the dirccSb road to Canaan, that they 
might gradually be prepared for thofe (harp confli6is^ 
which thgr had lo fuftain *. Let us pTiifc Vvwxi ^ox 
* Exod. xiii. 17, 1%. 



19^ ECmrPTXJRE chasactsrs* 

the methods of his grace fo exaiSly fuUed to the vari- 
ous calcs of his people, and cheerfully commit our- 
felves to his care ^ivA difpofal. 

We obferve, what perverfeaers and ** contradtdion 
of finners" our Lord endured j and with what mcck- 
nefs he replied to their malicious objei^lions* We 
learti) therefore, to ab{tmia from all pride and vehe- 
mence of fpirit, and with patience to bear the fdlf 
and malignity of thofe, who oppofe themfelvcSi 
Let us beware, efpccially, left we be numbered 
amongft " the adverfaries of the Lord." Arc there 
not thofci who Huw the fame cavilling temper of 
mind, which the Pharifecs did of old ? Moft awful 
indeed h your fituaticn. He, who fuffered his ene- 
mies to raife their wicked contentions a^ainft himfelT, 
when he was upon the earth, may cxercife much for- 
bearance towards youj but he will fooii reckon with 
30U for your captious infolence iu refifting his Gofpet, 
?.nd for your obftiiiate contempt of his grace, Ani 
"can your heart endure, or can your hands be ftrong, 
in the days that he ftiall deal with you I" O rubmit; 
nor dare any longer to maintain the vain and prefump- 
tuous conted ! Refufe not tn comply with his d€-> 



JESUS CHRIST. 



y^fuSy tckhratlng thi pajjiver^ turtd an impQUnt man 
WjL at Bet hi/da — callid U aucuni^ declared his «*;« dig* 
^m mty — /lated th^ prm/s &f bts divine mi^on — andfub*' 
^m^j^infd the m^Jlfikmn admynitiam U bis spp&prs^ 

^P It is generally ftippofcd, that oiir Lord celebrated 
four paflb vers during his public miniftry; and that 
that drcurnftance, which we are now aboat to con- 
fider^ occurred at the fecond of thetn. At the an- 
nual celebration of that great feftival;, he went up to 
Jeriifalem, as the law commanded* He was coniiant 
in his attendance upon all inftituted means: and his 
c?cample teaches us, not to^!a;ht or n^gle^ the ordi- 
nances; fince he, who could not flra«<l m need of 
them, as we do, put fuch henottr upon them* 

^ When he came to Jerufalem, an opportunity foon 
offered for the exercife and difplay of his power and 
compaflion *. A poor difebled man, who had re- 
mained in a ftate of entire impotencyfor thirty^eight 
years, lay at the pool of Bethefda, waiting in expec- 
tation of a cure from the miraculous motion of the 
water, which k pleafed God to appoint at certain 
ieafons, for the healing of the moft inveterate difeafes. 
This afHi4£ted perfon attrad^ed the notice of Jefus, 
'who even prevented an application, and, without re- 



V0L.IIL 



• ]6ha v» If Set. 

K 



c4\Nm^ 



194 SCRIPTURE CHARACTEHS. 

cciving fo much as a petition for relief, (the.crippl^, 
probably, knowing nothing of his charader) iniUntly 
by a word rcRored his ftrength, and commanded him 
to give full and [;ublic proof of his recovery, by tak- 
ing up his bed and walking. 

The fupernatural cffeSt was manifeft; and we 
might have thought the conclufion from it fo obvious, 
that all mull acknowledge it. But the fuperftitious 
Pharifees immediately objc<3:ed to it, becaufe the 
work had been performed, and the man had carried 
av^y his couch, on the fabbath day. Hypocrites, 
we find, are generally attentive to outward obfcr- 
vances, while they are content to be deftitute of real 
religion in their hearts. The perfon, who was cured, 
rightly argued, that he, who had fo wonderfully re* 
moved his difcafe, could not be f«ppofed to require 
him to do, what was finful. They, however, pro- 
bably fufpedting that Jefus was the author of the mi- 
racle, were denrous to bring him forward to public 
view, that they might accufe him. But in the mean 
time, he had judged it proper, either through modefly 
or prudence, to retire from their obfervation, before 
he was known. Afterwards, indeed, the man, har- 




JESUS CHRIST. 195 

The circumftance, here related, may reprefs ouc 
wonder, when we hear the bafeft mifreprefentatioiis 
of excellent charafters arid the moft benevolent con- 
ilu6l. Thofe, who are followers of Jefus, niuft ex- 
pert to pafs through evil report, as he did, and (hould 
not be daggered in their minds, though they hazard 
the lofs of every thing, even when they exert them- 
felves moft earneftly for the honour of God and the 
benefit of their fellow-creatures. ** Though war 
{hould rifeagainft them," let them •* not be weary 
in well-doing." 

Jefus, then, was called to account for what he had 
done, probably in a public manner, and, as it (hould 
ieem, before the Sanhedrim, the great council of the 
nation. There he ftood arraigned as a criminal; 
and yet, when put upon his defence, he fpake as the 
Sovereign Lord of all, pofleffing full authority to con- 
demn and dcflroy his aocufers. With an inexpref- 
fible dignity he declared, '* My Father worketh hi- 
therto, and I work;" as if be had (aid, " My Fath6t 
is continually carrying on his works of providence, 
and ceafeth not on (abbath days from exercifing his 
Almighty power for the fupport of the creation; and 
I, who maintain the fame dominion, and a£t in the fame 
abfolute manner, am no more to be retrained and li- 
mited in my operations, by thofe rules, which muft di- 
rt£i thecondu^of creatures*^' If this be, as it evident- 
ly appears, the fair import of his words, we wonder 
not that the Jews, who determined not to acknow- 
ledge his divinity, conddered him as a blafphemer, 
for this plain reafon, that ^ he made himfelf equal 
with God," This charge, therefore, they immedi- 
ately urged againft him^ and he replied to it without 
fear or referve. He took occafion from it to enter 
upon a full vindication of himfelf, afTcrting the high 
dignity of his character and the offices he fuftai*^"-* 
and warning them of their danger in oppoC\tvr 
The whole of bis fpecch is inconceVvaXAN t 
K 2 ^ 



d 



\rfi SCRirTUKB CHAILACTEKS. 

cf^tlary if it be unJcrflood to be adJrdTcd to the 
nilcrs oi the people, ccUccked in their grand aiTemblj, 
ar.ii fittir.j: in judgment upon him. 

Had they n.iftaken his words, or drawn a falfc and 
mifchicvuus conclufion from them {2s they certainly 
■ d, if he be not very Gcd), he would inftantly have 

iirc^Sk'J the error, and explained hisc meaning more 
cx| liciily. But, fo fi:r from contradiding, he'aJIow- 
ccl iMui confirmed, their inference. For he proceed- 
ed to declare, that " what things foever the Father 
dot rh, thcfe alfo doeth the Son "likewife," not only 
p'.rfnrming the fame operations, but conduct in^ them 
in the fame n anncr, with an equal dlfplay of fiTpreme 
and fovcrcign authority. And is it not, then, a fair 
deilu^tiop., that the Father and the Son, whoarecon- 
feflcdly united in their plans of aiStion, are one in na- 
ture, and pofllf? the very fame perfections? He re- 
ferred them to fome ftronger tcdimonies of his Om- 
nipotence, than had already been given by the cure 
of the lame man, and obferved, that in two particular 
iiiftances his dignity, as the Son of God, v^ouldbc 
manifefled, to their aftonifliment. The one was, his 
rci^^'iipg of life to the dead, according to his owfl 




JBSUS CHRIST. 197 

the former, is, in efFeS, denied to the latter. Of 
what fort, then, is their religion, who are attempting 
the degradation of the Saviour ? With all their pre- 
tences of veneration for the God of heaven, they are 
here exprefsly declared to be his enemies. 

Accordingly, the Lord Jefus, in the moft folemn 
manner, demanded the attention of bis judges, repre- 
fenting himfelf as the grand fource of ail fpiritual 
bleffings, and requiring them to fubmit to him, and 
depend upon him, as the author and giver of cverlalt- 
ing life. Xo fix a deeper impreffion on their mind^, 
he fet before them the aw'ful proceedings of the laft 
day, when they fliould hear his voice, awakening 
them from their graves> and ftand at his bar, to re- 
ceive their final fcntence from his mouth. 

It is objefted to the doch'ine, which aflerts his 
Deity, that he (aid on this very occafion, " I ran of 
mine own felf do nothing;'' clearly implying an ori- 
ginal fubjeftion and inferiority to the Father. But 
we apprehend, that no (uch conclulon can be fairly 
drawn from his expreffions. True it is, that " the 
Son can do nothing of himfelf 5" that is, he can have 
no diftinft plan of his own, nor can he acl fcpaiately 
from, or in oppofition to, the Father: fuch is their 
tinion, and perfe6t agreement together. 

But does not Jefus defcribe himfelf as fubordinate 
and dependent? Doubtlefe, there is a fenf-, in which 
he is fo. He fpeaks of a commiilion which he had 
received, and of an authority with which he was in- 
trufted,. from the Father. But this may properly ba 
Teferred to his mediatorial oiEce, and does not prove 
any difference or inequality, previous to his voluntary 
aflumption of that bfRce. In that capacity he fub- 
mits to be a fervant, and a<Sl« by exprefs directions 
from the Father, and in fubjeftion to his will. 
•* Becaufe he is the Son of man,," having taken our 
nature upon him, and appeared in the likenefs of fin- 
f\xl flefli, he is, in this refpedl and for i\{v^ nw^ ^- 



198 SCRIPTURE CHARACTERS. 

fon, inferior to the Father, and is fent and appointed 
by him. Yet the charafter he fuftain«, and the afts 
he performs, as Mediator, clearly manifeft his Divi- 
nity: for no created being in earth or heaven pof- 
'fcfles powers fufficient for them. 

Are we, then, in danger of rendering too much 
honour to Jofus, or of exalting him higher than he 
ii(;ft'rves? Who does not tremble at the fuggeftion? 
But have vie indeed obtained fuitaWc conceptions of 
his diiinity? and are we habitually giving him the 
glory "due unto him ? Let us fear, left we come 
under the condemnation of thofe, " who honour not 
the Son/' If we are difaffeSed to him, and unwil- 
ling to pay him profound and fuprcme adoration, wc 
;irc ffjnd.imcntally and dangeroufly wrong. For it is 
jn nrpirnfabiy required, that, as we believe in God the 
K;r her, we fliould alfo believe in his Son Jcfus 
Chria. 

lie proceeded to ftatc certain decifive proofs, in 
fup':ort of the claims, which he made. C>ur reafon 
V appealed to, i-n confirmation of our faith : and evi- 
donce, in abundance, may be adduced, to convince 
u^ that our holy religion is no foolifh fancy, or bafc 
)ofition. T\>c tiofpti docs not feek to evade 




JESUS CHRIST. • -199 

He referred them to his own miracles, inattefta- 
tion of his divine miffion. He performed fuch won- 
derful works, as huitiaii powers were unequal to; 
and thefe, therefore, fufficiently evinced, that he 
could not be a deceiver, but that he was indeed, 
what he had uniformly maintained) the Saviour that 
ihould come into the world* 

He alleged, that his Father alfo had borne witnefs 
of him; which he had done, not only by the extra- 
ordinary gifts communicated to him, but by an ex- 
prefs decFaration ** from the excellent glory," that 
Jefus was his beloved Son, Such an evidence as 
this had not been vouchfafed on any other occafion. 
Yet to what purpofe was it then given ? Alas ! it ren- 
dered many the more inexcufable for their unbelief; 
as they hardened their hearts again(t convivftion. 

He directed them, likewife, to the teftimony of 
the holy fcrlptures. Thefe were the writings of tlie 
©Id Teftamcnt, the authenticity of which they all 
acknowledged, and to which they profefled to pay a 
Very high regard. To thefe divine oracles he made 
a folemn ?ippcal, in vindication of his own claims, 
and argue4 their inconfiftency, who, with vaft pre- 
tences of ribverence for the facred records, rejected 
the very Saviour, whom they all pointed out. Their 
infpired authors are witneues of Chrift, either by 
"lypes, promifes, or prophecies ; and, fi nee Jefus has 
cxa<SIy fulfilled rhofe ancient defcriptions, they illuf- 
trate and confirm his declarations. How ft range is 
it> then, that any, who have the Bible in their hands, 
Ibould remain in ignorance of him ! How abfurd and 
finful is the general inattention of men to the impor- 
tant contents of that book, which they allow to be a 
revelation from heaven ! 

Thus Jefus endeavoured to convince the Jews of 
his charafter and mifiion, and of the juftice of thof<? 
claims, which he advanced. And are not we j*^'"" 
interefted in thefubje£ti Do we, thetv, tccwtC 
K 4 



101 ICRIPTCAE CHAEACTCRS« 

He waistie^i them, fl tally, that the great fouixfer 
of thetr 0wn rHigioji, Mofes, w whc^m they prcffcfled 
nn unrefcrved fubmiiHon, appeared as thetr accuser 
before (J «di and that I hey would be fo fully con- 
Vii\cd on die charge of rcjcding that pro^jhet, there 
would be no need far him tc» bring a^ny t^fltmony 
again it thcnit 7*bey would, therefore^ be condemnd 
on their ow^n pnnciplcs ; for, u$ Mofes bad written 
much concerning the Redeemer^ and a!mo£l all the 
ritts and ceremonies of his law reprefented the oiEce, 
work^ or rhira^erj of Mefliah, a real regard to thofe 
ancient records woidJ have produced a cordial recep- 
tUiH of Jcfu^ in whom the types and prophecies wctc 
fiilfilled* Yet fuch was their aftoniibing ignorance 
and perverfenefs, that, with the Bible in their hands, 
they denied aiid perfecatcd the very perfon, of whom 
they were continually reading. 

The addrefs is applicable to others befides Jews; ta 
TJiany among ourfelver, who pretend to pay the higis- 
cft deference to both the old and the new Teftament, 
as the revelation of Gcd, May we not afk. Do not 
thcfe fcriptures contain the heavieft charge again!! 
yon, while you oppofe the authority of Cnrift, and 
d^fpife his grace? And Aiotild you not, to be confif- 



JtSUS^ CHRIST. 203 

is the date of your minds, while you difcover the ut- 
moft difdain for infinite excellency and repay the 
tendered love with, hatred ! Your wickednefs is of a 
heinous nature, and highly aggravated. You d^^fplfc 
^ the Lord of glory," the Son of God, *' who thought 
it no robbery to be equal with God.'* You pay no 
regard to the united teftimonies of earth and heaven 
in his favour* Yo^i fcorn the kindeft and richeil 
offers, ever made to man* You. are unwilh'ng to 
bow to him, whom Angels worfhip, or to be in- 
debted to him for the life of your fouls, which muft 
inevitably perifh without him. You fet light by his 
unparalleled condefcenflons and labours of love: and, 
in defiance of all admonitions and threatenings, you are 
rufhing on, with fleady courfe, to certain and evei - 
lafling damnation. 

It is proper, by thefe repeated warnings, to call 
your attention to your own perilous condition. But 
how little efFed is produced by fuch folemn reproofs'! 
Probably after our Lord's addrefs, his accufers and 
judges were iilenced, and reftrained by an awful im« 
preffion upon their minds from proceeding to any 
a<^ oi violence againft him. So pofllbly mn\ you, 
who are his avowed oppofers, for a feaibn at lea"^, be 
convinced and alarmed by thefe faithful reprefc.r .irons 
of your guilt and danger* You may fecm ta reiin- 
quiifa your obje£iions, and yet perlevere in unbelief, 
and be deflroyed for ever. Moft tremendous thouajht ! 
May it pleafe God, not only .to awaken your fears, 
but to fubdue the enmity of your hearts ! Then you 
will not ceafe to pray, *^ O Lord, fiilfil in us all the 
good pleafure of thy goodnefs, and the work of faith 
with power P' 



K 6 ^^^>3^ 



t06 ICRJfTCniK CtfAtACTElEt, 




ftibbith, for ttie fupport of himrdf and hi 9 atteii 
which in ^ny other ficua^ciyit would hare been higl 
fintuU To fave lift: is more pJe3iGn§ to God ttian 
fb© obfcrvtncc or any merely pofitivc inl^tutiofis; 
for^ aft Jefus argy«filj our gracious God hjs dtcbr^ 
that *^ He will have mercy and m>t facrifice ♦ /' ms.t 
b^ when they inter*t:rc with each other, the Conner 
mufl h;tve the prtfcr^ncc, and the latter be difpen^ 
with- Frf«m this part of the defence we are led m 
remark iuul iidmire the faithful and zealous atcacb* 
men! of his fullowL-r^, who cheerfully expofed them- 
Mv€^ ta hunger^ that they nitght watt upon him, ani 
enjoy the benefit of his divine rnftr iidions. We arc 
not awarCf how many and extreme didiculties tfaey 
endured \ ^nd, probubly, we ihould not have Icnown 
their diflrcf^ on this occaGony had it not been re" 
qutftte to offer an ejocufc for them. But where do 
we now perceive fudi a regard to Jefus, as difpofe^ 
men to fuftcr in his rerviecf In general, inany wttlt- 
draw from him upon the fir ft appearance of ha'rdliifps, 
and ^ walk no more with him/' Like fwallowt, 
th^^y abide not the winteri but depart, when ^onti^ 
ipproach. 
* 0(if Lord alleged. Iike1^1ie« that, as fh#? nn^ 



J»US CHRIST^ VHf 

from motuit Sinai ; and He, wbo ordained it, has r 
right to difpenfe with to modify, or alter it, as He 
pleafes. It waS) therefore, a fufficient vindication of 
his followers, in the circumftances now mentioned^ 
that they aiSted in his fervice and by his permiffion» 

It becomes us, alfo, to regard *' the Son of man** 
as ^^ the Lord of the Sabbath/* In this view, we 
fbould obferve that facred feafon out of obedience to 
his command, and feeic the enjoyment of his prefence 
and favour, as the grand obje<a of it. We believe 
it to have been agreeable to his will, if not by his ex- 
prefs directions, that a change (hould be introduced, 
and that the iirft, inftead of the laft, day of the week 
ihould be kept holy to Him. This is now diftin- 
gui(hed by a new and' more honourable name, " the 
Lord's day:" He claims it as bis own, in a peculiar 
manner; and he has laid us under frefh and greatdr 
obligations to fan£bify it, by rifing from the dead, and 
bleifing his Church with the miraculous effufions of 
bis Spirit, on that very day. In this alteration it is 
not implied, that the fabbath itfelf is abrogated, or 
that any thing is taken away, eiTential to the original 
inftitution, which prcfcribes fuch a portion of our 
time to be fet apart for God. But rather, according 
to this reprefcntation, if Jefus be ** the Lord of the 
£sibbath," the appointment is confirmed, and its con« 
ti nuance among Chriflians is ordained by him. 

Soon after the incident laft mentioned, we find 
him combating the fame, or fimilar, obje(Stions of the 
Pharifees,, " On another iabbath," probably in fome 
city of Galilee, he attended the public worfhip of 
God at the fynagogue, as his cuftom was; and there 
alfo he took the opportunity of teaching the people*. 
Here aeain we are inftrudied to be thankful^ that we 
have a hdufe of prayer, to which we can refort, and 
that divine^ ordinances are adminiftered among o* 

* Mat. xil. 9—21. Mark iiiv i-*i%» Lukft Vu 

4 



2lO SCRIPTURE CHARACTERS. 

if wc are not, in one refpeft or another, aduated by 
a (Imilarfpirit. What, then, will the iffuebe? What 
can you expe6^, in profccuting a conCeft againft Him, 
who has all power in his hands? O ^ kifs the Son, 
leit he be angry, and ye perifh from the way, when 
his wrath is kindled but a little* !** 

It fhould fcem, that, even in our own times, feme 
unfair and mifchicvous conclufions have been drawn 
from our Lord's condu£l upon the Jabbath^ and bis 
vindication of himfclf. Many, clearly, think them- 
fclves authorized to purfue their worldly proje£b of 
bufincfs and pleafure. But is there any thing, in 
what he has faid or done, to countenance fuch a prac- 
tice ? Do we perceive in him any contempt of the 
facred day? Or can we infer more from his example,, 
than this, that works of piety, charity, and heccffity 
may be attended to? We a(k, then, Are thefe the 
only calls, which you regard on the feafon, fet apart 
for holy reft? Have you not taken pains to explain 
away all obligations to a ftriil ar\d ferious obfervance 
of the fabbath; as if, at leaft, the Gofpel had fo far 
rcleafed us from tliem, that every man is now at li* 
berty to profecute his own plans, as intereft or con- 




JESUS CHRIST. 'air 

tually negleS and Qiamefully violate the duty? \^e 
fee them deferting the houfc and miniftry of God, 
ready to join in every fcheme of idlenefs> vanity, and 
diflipation, or elfe fo engrofied with fecular cares, that 
their thoughts and aftedtions cannot be raifed to any 
higher objedis; and yet they wilh to be complimented 
as good Chriflians. How ftrange and grievous an 
inconfiftency is this \ 

The fame ardent zeal, for the glory of God and 
the 'ialvation of men, continued to a£luate the Sa- 
viour. Intending to appoint certain perfons, out of 
his conftant attendants, to the Apofllefhip, he previ- 
oufly retired for fecret prayer to a mountain, where 
probably an oratory was crefted*, that he might en- 
gage the divine bleiling upon the inflitutron : and fo 
fervent was his devotion, that he remained all night 
in the fame fpiritual exercife f, A whole night fpent 
in importunate fupplications to God ! Ah ! at how 
great a diftance do we (land from this eminent ex- 
ample! Would not a fingle hour, fo employed, feem 
a wearinefs to us ? Yet furely we muft allow the pro- 
priety and neceflity of confeqrating fome portions of 
our tin\e to the fame pious purpofc. Efpecially, whea 
our minds are fixed upon any important fcheme or 
undertaking (and what can be more important than 
the ordination of perfons for the work of the iacred 
miniftry?) a more than common length of holy re- 
tirement, and an unufual earneftnefs in prayer, will 
be requifite, that we may proceed to it with right 
principles, and prevail with our God to al&fl: and 
profper us in it. 

After fuch a preparation, very early in the morn- 
ing Jefus called together his difciples, or ftated fol- 
lowers, who by their previous accjuaintance with him 
had been in fome meafure trained up for the fervice^ 

• Prid, Conne£t. vol. iv. p. 557, 



^4 SCRIPTUUC CHARACTERS. 

tarn remarkable paflagcs of the fermon, which he haJ 
pr«aeheci fomc months before, probably' in a diftant 
pface, znA to a different acidic irce. As that fermon 
has been already cooitider'^d, it ma) be ftifficjeat briefly 
to fugfrefl: the principal ttipicsi on which our Lord 
infiftcd £tt this time; not as if they were of fmall mo- 
mcntj btir bccaufe they have fa lately engaged ourfc* 
rlou<; meditarion. 

With a view to encourage his true difciples, and 
perhaps thofc more efpccially whom he had juft ap- 
poimed to the facrd fundtion^ " he lifted up his eyes 
on them," as if rejoicing over them, and cxpreffing 
his peculiar affeftion toxvards th.m. H* then de- 
fctibed their character, their exalted privileges M 
happincfs, notwtthftanding all they might fufftr, andj 
with the language of authority as well as love, pro- 
nounced them bleifed. This is perfectly applicable 
to his (irKcre followers in every age, Xhey ait 
** poor J* it may be in worldly thi^iffs, as they cer- 
tainly are *' in fpirit;" but they are the favoured fub- 
le<3s of Chrirt's kingdom, and heaven, with all its 
wifs and glory, fliall be their inheritance- They ruay 
fuffer the extremity of wanti fo as to be d«ftitutej|k 



JESaS CHRIST. 21 J 

But, turning to others of an oppoCite charafler, he 
defcribed their awful cafe, and denounced the moft 
tremendous WOcs againft them. Let thofe, in the 
prefent day, who are deftitute of true religion, hear 
their doom declared, and fear for themfelves. They 
perceive not their need of any fpi ritual bleilings, nor 
feel any ardent defires to obtain the grace revealed in 
the Gofpel. VViiatever temporal advantages, there- 
fore, or fenfual pleafures they may now enjoy, they 
are wretched ; fince they " have neither part nor lot 
in this matter." Poffibly, they may abound* in 
wealth, and be able to command every gratification, 
which a carnal heart may covet; they may live in 
fplendour, gaiety, and diiSpation ; they may be ad- 
mired and applauded amongft men; but the day of 
their calamity is coming; for their expiring breath 
will conclude all their comfort and their glory, nor 
can any thing await them beyond the grave, except 
tribulation and anguiib, fbame and everlafting con- 
tempt. 

. After fuch alarming declarations, Jefus proceeded 
to deliver various precepts, which prove the peculiar 
hoHnefs of his religion, and are of ^neraT ufe to all 
his profeiTed difciples, for the regulation of their tem- 
pers and condu£b. 

He enjoined: the exercife of forgivenefs and love 
towards the moft violent and malignant perfecutors, 
together with the practice o# univerfal and difinte- 
relied benevolepce. But to return Icindneis for in- 
juries, bleffings for curfes, how oppofite to the pride, 
envy, anger, and refentment of our fallen nature ! 
To do good, without the profpeft of. prefent recom- 
pence or advantage, and without exception of perfons, 
how contrary to the felfiih, contra6led notions of 
men ! Yet only by fuch an enlarged beneficence can 
v^e prove ourlelves to be partakers of the grace of 
Chrift, and the children of the Higheft, who exttv 
his benefits to all* 



ai6 tCRIFTWIlE CHARACrr&S. 

He gave cautions about Judging and rcproyii^ 
others. There are cafo, in which it itmy be proper 
and ncctdzry to undcitakc that yjiplcaf^ot oiHce^ but 
wc flioujd be fyre, thui the occafion demands it, and 
that wc da it not rafhiy or feverelv^ or from an arro- 
ganc, ccoforiou*, or malicious otrpontjon« Upon 
this head, our Lord inti muted the d^ingcr of follow- 
ing ^^ blind guides i" afid, as we are gcnerailj much 
inSutnced by oyr teachers, we fhould beware Idl we 
attach ourfclvcs to thoic, who do not feel or under- 
itstnd the mild and liberaf fpuit of Chnilianity. Yet, 
whife we look to others^, we fbould not forget our- 
iclveS) but rather begin the work of reformation there* 
For except we perceive, condemn, and correS our 
own faults, we are incompetent to decide upon the 
cbara^ers and condu<^ of others. 

He enforced the neccflity of proving a profeffcd 
regard to him by a holy life. As the fruit determines 
the nature of a tree, fu the hahitual tendency of our 
aftions, word«, and tennpers will belt difcover the 
ftate of otjr bearts toward* him. By fuch marJcSi 
then, we muft examine, whether we are truly unitfi 
to Chrift, and renewed by hi* grace. To what pur- 

TiriCf ihnW %ift* rnsit^ a fK^u? nf bif»,K r^frus^jC^ fw^w !■;« 



jsstrs cHki$T» 117 

TThe fincere believer comes to Chrift, receives with 
an humble mind the do£lrines of grace, and by an ex- 
emplary life proves^ that the word, which he has heard, 
has procluced its right influence upon him. His truft 
is built on an immovable bafis: " the rock of ages'* 
is the fure foundation, on which he refts. Trials and 
temptations, like heavy ftorms, may beat upon him ; 
but nothing (hall be able to overthrow his hope, or 
difappoint his expeflation. The hypocrite may Jiften 
to, and perhaps zealoufly contend for, the pure fyftem 
of the Gofpel; but he advances no ^rther. He de- 
pends on his accurate notions and diftin£lions, or his 
compliance with the forms and ceremonies of reli- 
gion, while he feels not its inward energy. He will, 
therefore, be left defencelefs and unfupported in the 
day of his calamity : " the overflowing fliower" of 
divine indignation iball fiiddenly caft him down, and 
fweep him away into everlafting deftrudlion. 

Such were the folemn admonitions of the Saviour. 
They have been offered to our notice before ; but 
Purely we may bear the repetition of them again and 
again. They are at all times interefting, feafonable, 
and neceflary. May they lead us to a vtr'iA and im- 
partial examination of our own hearts ! What, thert, 
is our chara6ler? what our expectation beyond the 
grave? If we call ourfelves the difciples of Jefus, 
what is the regard we pay him ? Do we give him any 
thing more than a bare compliment ? Or are our af- 
fediqns and general habits regulated by an unfeigned 
obedience to his will ? What benefit do we derive 
from hearing the Gofpel ? Or what fruits of righte- 
oufnefs do we produce ? Thefe important enquiries 
naturally arife from the fubjedl before us; and they 
claim our moft ferious confideration. Let us exa- 
mine the foundation, on which our edifice refts, finr^ 
we arc building for eternity. How terrible w" 
die confufion of the ungodly, when ^^ the hail 
Vol. IU. L 



ai8 



SCRIPTt7RB eHA&ACTERS. 



fweep tway their refuge of lies, and the waters (hall 
overflow their hiding-place*!" But may we, "be- 
ine rooted and grounded in the love'* of Chriftj^fland 
faft in the faith, ajgainft everv aflSiult on earth, and 
then appear at the laft awful oay with confidence and 
exceeding joy, through the merits and mediation of 
our Lord and Saviour Jefus Chrift ! Amen. 

* lit. xxTiii* 17* 



4 




JESUS CHRIST. 



SECT. IS* 

y^fus healed a Centurion' s Jervant'^raifed a widmfs 

fon to life—teflified of John tie Baptiji— lamented 

over the impenitent'-^encouraged the contrite-'^dined 

with a Pharifee^ and vindicated the woman^ whojiood 

as a mourning penitent at his feet ^ 

Amongst the varioas incidents, which meet us 
in the life of Jefus, none will be found of a trifling 
or uninterefting nature. Every thing in this hiftory 
is extraordinary, and replete with inftruSion. Eacn 
ftcp that we advance will furnifh us with frefh proofs 
of his divine character and miflion, and at the fame 
time with renewed inftances of his condefcending 
and compaflionate regard to our miferable and guilty 
xace. May every view of him con ft rain us to cry 
out, with admiration and gratitude, ^^ BlefTed be the 
Lord God of Ifrael, for he hath vifited and redeemed 
his people, and hath raifed up an horn of falvation for 
us*!'' 

After the folemn addrefs, which Jefus delivered to 
his difciples in the audience of the people, he retired 
to Capernaam, his moft ufual refidence f . Where- 
'ever he went, opportunities of exerting his benevo- 
lence were oiFered, which he readily embraced. In 
this city, a man of good reputation, who, it (hould 

* Lwke i. 6S^ 69. f Mat. viii. 5-- 13. Luke Vu« 1-^0 

{ ; L z fee 



010 YCRIPTVRB CHARACTRS. 

feem, attended to the worfliip of tbe true God, i 
Centurion, or a Captain in the Roman army, having 
heard of Jefiis, of his charader, and the nuracles he 
had wrought, applied to him^ to come and heal a 
favourite lervant at the point of death. The Gentile 
ibldier difcovered a remarkable decree of humility and 
£dtb, upon the occafion. Thinking himfelf un- 
wordiy to folicit the kind notice of fo exalted a Per- 
fonage, he prevailed on fome of the principal Jews 
in the place^ to prefcnt and Second his petition. Je- 
ius, who was ever inclined to iuccour the affli^Mli 
immediately confented to comply with their roqueft. 
But the Centurion, alhamed to give him tbe trouUe, 
and conceiving it to be an unfuitable thing, that be 
ihould receive fuch a vifitant in his houle, believing 
alfo that he was able to perform the cure at a dis- 
tance, fent another deputation of his friends, and 
then at laft went forth himfelf to meet JeTus, entreat- 
ing him to proceed no farther, but only by his power- 
ful word to command the health of the iervatit tobe 
rcftored. « Even I,'* faid he, " who am fuWcato 
the authority of another, as I have foldi ers under mf 
control, no fooner iffue out my orders, than Acf are 




JESUS cHRinr«^ i2% 

kingdonr of glory, whilfl thofe, who preiumed upon 
their exclufive right to it, ihould be condenmed to s 
ftate of everlafting torment and defpair. This con* 
veys a fuitabie admonition to us* We obferve, that 
there is no fituation or condition of life, however un- 
fevourable, in which the grace of God may not pro* 
duce eminent inftances of real religion. And it 
fhould excite our diankfulnefs, to meet with any one,, 
under great difadvantages of education and in the 
midft of many (hares, like this officer in the Romaic 
army, humbled with a deep convidlion of extreme 
unworchinefs, and entertaining high and honourable- 
thoughts of Jefiis. He did not ftoop too low, whea 
he (aid, ^< Lord, I am not worthy, that thou fliouldflr 
come under my roof ;'^ for the moft exalted monarch^ 
m the world might properly adopt the fame confef*-^ 
£on» And ihall not we remember and acknowledge^ 
that we defttvt no tokens of the Saviour's kind re* 
gard, and that, if Be deign to vifit us, it muft be af- 
crib^ to bis own wonderful conde(cen(ion and mercy J 
But do we po(refs the faith of the Centurion? Or, da 
•we not,, rather, diftruft the power of Chrift? We 
are favoured, not above the Gentiles only, but eveir 
snore than the ancient Jews ; fo that we may be called 
•* the children of the kingdom/' Yet have we not 
occaGon to fear, that many, who are deftitute of our 
privileges, may rife up in jiidgment to condemn us? 
And would it not aggravate our mtfery^. to fee thenn^ 
admitted into heaven, whilft we ourfelves are excluded 
for ever? 

The reque(t of the Centurion was granted, and- 
his confidence in Jefus proved to be well founded. 
He was difmiflfed in peace, and his fervant inftantl]^ 
veftored to the full' vigour of health, merely by the 
efficacious word of the great Phyfician. Nor will 
fny be finally difappointedr of their hope in Him. We 
£bouId entertain large expe£bitions, from a ^t{>3A&^ 
of: his ability to bvc: and a ftrong^ ux^Q[^«a ti 



211 SCRIPTURE CHARACTtmS^ 

in him will in&llibly fecare hb bleffing to our 
fouls. 

After this miraclr^ it is probable that the fiiroe of 
Jefus was celebrated, and ^hat, in .confequence, the 
number of his followers increafed. The maltitude^ 
indeed, fo preflTed ifpon him, diat he bad no leiibre to 
take proper refrefliment: and fo inceflant was his tt- 
tention to them, that his firiends interfered^ bbuBii^ 
him for an exceis of zeal, and with much vAemence 
importuning him to deiift from his labours, as inja- 
rious to himfelf, and even denoting a degree of irai- 
nity *• Peculiar occafions may jufHfj and demand 
fuch ardent exertions, as to foi^e niajr appear needkfi 
and extravagant. Naj, the venr ienrencj, which at 
alt times becomes the fervant or Chrift, wiB be ac« 
counted by the world a fiire mark of wemknefi or de- 
range merit of the faculticsl But, compared with fe 
vigorous efForcs of the Saviour, the moft ea^er m^ 
ftrenuous endeavours of bis people wilt feem to favour 
of lukewarmnefe and fl<ith. Probably, wc are not 
capable of adtviiyj like His, 

He might fa far yield to the folicitations of hr* 
frie^ds, as to receive fome nouriflimetit, and then rt- 




JESUS CHRIST. 223 

her tears. But what confolation could he adminifter 
to one, who feemed to have loft her all ? " Is any 
thing too hard for the Lord ?" He fliewed himfeff 
ftronger than death; for inftantly, with a divine ma- 
jefty and authority, as the Almighty Lord, " who 
quickencth whom he will," he fpake the word, and 
the dead revived. He reftored to the difconfolate wi- 
dow her beloved child, in all the vigour of life; and 
thus *' gave unto her, beauty for afhes, the oil of joy 
for mourning, the garment of praife for the fpirit of 
heavinefs." 

What an aftonifliing exhibition both of mercy and 
of might! We are at a lofs to know, which of them 
we fhould moft admire. No wonder, that an event 
fo uncommon, and inconteftably miraculous, imprefT- 
cd the minds of all the fpedlators with a ferious awe, 
and conftrained them to acknowledge, that an illuf- 
tfious prophet had rifen up among them, and that 
God had again vifited his peculiar people. And fhall 
not we, alfo, be ftruck with a holy fear and reverence 
of the Saviour, while we contemplate his adlions? 
Does not the occurrence before us clearly prove his 
divine miffionf Why, then, do not all receive him, 
as coming from heaven to inftrudl and redeem hi? 
Church?. Alas! but. few are. convinced; or, their 
conviftions are very fuperficial. Many will not ex- 
amine the -evidence with ferious attention, but, in 
proud or carclefs contempt, turn away both their 
eyes and their ears from the truth. Others, we ob- 
ferve with grief, though obliged by the ftrength of 
argument to -affent to the Gofpel, fail of that un- 
feigned and fupreme regard, which is due to Jefus, 
They may feel an impreflion of terror upon their 
minds, like the inhabitants of Nain, and confefs, that 
*• a great Prophet is rifen up," while they refufe to 
fubmit or liften to the doctrines, which he delivers. 
How ftrange and fatal an inconfiftency is tlvisl 

L 4 N^i 



::4 5c!l:?tc»? chazacters. 

Vo't - ■• : "•;n :r • :ea ::f-ncfs of JcC-^i cowards the 
- ••: M . • :'-:«!., we Ql:!! Icarn from ere ex2!xi;:lc, 
t: ': !k .. ir.; idflxt^i *i:/. x^nJaef? and compif- 
:'.-', i*- ; ": /-■ cat CL:r hir.ds r'jr their relief. But 
r'i.:.:, ' c • - ;.. 'ar., is cur pity: :o . ia aianv cafe?, 
c -: * : - .-.r- : remcve, or mini.^ce, diiirefs tife 
: .-"■.:.■-. 'f.' • ilcrii cin iidzniniiitr f^itable and 
i^icu.ti i.I::i.cc. O nx your atrenticn upon 
ti.T, ) •: : :.t-l: ire Li^erwhelsiea wich trouble, whofc 
*' tcir^ hic bicr. your melt Aijr and night!" He 
Cir. .r.:":ir.:!y :^:r. \cjr wearing into jcv,^and your 
CTipli.rr* :r.:o l:i.d :iunk:'gi^ ings^ by accompli;rjng 
Cf.iverinc? in a wiy, wr.ica :o you may feem impof- 
f:b>. F. r what canal his power cSeil? Or what 
wi.i not his iove be difpcfed to grant, if really cxpc-* 
cicnt fcr you? Death, indeed, may rob you cf tfaofe 
vTiO were the delight of yoiir eyes and the defire of 
your hearts, and the gra»e may detain them; yet, 
linder the prcffurc cf this calamity, you are tauAt to 
rejoice in Jefus as " the Relurredion and theLifc^" 
v'ho will fliortly break up the manCons of the dead, 
and rcftore to you every dear friend, who has de* 
parley m inc rastn, clomtu » t:*T gitTy aijd immorta* 




fefves to Him, after JcJin's deccafe. They behclA 
the wonderful exertions of his ]>ower and mercy: for 
in their prefence, while they ftood before him, he' 
healed all manner of difeafes, caft out devils, and re* 
ftored fight tO'the blinds. He referred them, there- 
fore, to his works for a decifive proof of his charac- 
ter, and dire^d them to carry a feithful relation to^ 
John, of what they had feen and heard, that they 
might all perceive the ancient prophecies, concerning, 
tiie Saviour of the world, to be fiilfilled in 'him. Ar 
the fame time he added, that it would be happy for* 
them, if they (hould not be daggered in their mindSy, 
er influenced by the prevailing pre}udices and objec- 
tions agatnft him. It is of importance to ourfelve? 
alfo, to be afluredthat Jefus is no deceiver,, that he- 
exhibited the ftrongeft teftimonies of his own divine 
iniflion, and, therefore,- that our faith refts on a fure 
foundation. Yet many reje£l him : and it is allow^ 
ed, that there are fucii things, relating to Him, his' 
doftrines, and adherents, as may give offence to Su- 
perficial and captious observers, and ftich as proud' 
and fenfual minds can never relifh. In this view,, 
bleffed indeed are they, who have themfelves efcaped- 
or furmounted thefe difficulties, and who are not led^ 
away by the exceptions of others- 

Our Lord took occafion from the vifit of John's" 
difciples, toaddcefe the multitude concerning the Bap- 
tift, who had once been extremely popular amongff 
them. He fpake of him in the moft honourable- 
terms, as being fled^ft both in his preaching and 
praf^ice, not eafily (haken like a reed with the wind,. 
not feeking the pomps of the world or fenfual grati- 
l&cations, but as a man of fingular aufterityand felf- 
denial*^ He declared him to be fuperior, in fome re— 
fpeds, to all the ancient prophets, efpecially as being: 
the Harbinger of Meffiahj and preparing the way for' 
his re;:eption« He remarked the peculiar ardour, >to^ 
wbicb^ fome. bad been excited by his m\s£&t^^^9^^. 



126 SCRIFTOM CRAlACrnS. 

fecmsd as if they would gun an admiffion into At 
heavenly kingdom by a holy violence; and yet be 
lamented the awfiil condition of thofe, who rejeded 
borh the Baptift, and the Saviour^ whom he came to 
introduce* He was led, therefore^ to complain of 
the perverfenefs of that generatiofi, who had diAo> 
\Tred the moft abfurd prejudices aeainft them, and 
condemned the one and the other, though for difier- 
ent and oppofite reafons; fo that diere appeared no 
profped of obtaining any acceptance with tbem. 
Thev had refufed their attention to John, on account 
of his aufterities, as if he were a melancholy, dit- 
tra«fted man^ under the pofleffion of an evil fpirit: 
and now they calumniated Jefus, for the freedom of 
hts intercourfe with men of all charaAers, as if he 
were himfelf addided to intemperance, and a patron 
of the diflblute and abandoned* Yet the Saviour Fe» 
joiced, that, amidft thefe various mifreprefentadons, 
there were thofe, who perceived and approved the 
wifdnm of their condu^. 

The application to ourfelves is obvious* Many, 
in our own day, betray a firowardneis and malignity 
of temper, fimilar to that of the ancient Pnarifees. 




JES0S CHRIST, '"'^^^ tiy 

of heaven ! They perceive the propriety and nece/Tity 
of many things in religion, with which others Art dif- 
giifted : and, indead of being carried away with the 
torrent of general prejudice, they determine to adhere 
to the truth and fervtce of God^ however vilified in 
the moft opprobrious terms* 

On theoccafion juft mentioned, Jefus was induced 
t& fpeak more largely, and with a peculiar ardour of 
afFciftion, while he lamented over the impenitent ci- 
ties of Galilecj in which he had performed moft of 
his mighty works, l^he meek and compaffionate 
Saviour denounced one wo upon another, again ft 
Chorazin, Bethfaida, and Capernaum^ and predi£led 
the final and aggravated ruin, which was coming 
upon them for their obduracy and contempt of the 
GofpeL Many^ it fiiould feem, of refpedlable cha- 
rafler and abilities, remained in unbelief. This very 
circumftance has been thought an objeilion to the 
Cbrifliaa faith, liutfurely, in thi'v view, it appears, 
that it was not a mere human fyftem, or i;:debted la 
worldly policy for its fupport, l^he ways of God are 
in the deep: but we perceive it to be His purpofe to 
abafe Ehe pride, and ftain the glory, ©f man; and, 
while we obfervc, that his falvation is not revealed 
to many of high attainments in literature, as it is to 
fome of inferior parts and mean rank in life, we are 
conftrained to be filent in the duft, or rather, with 
the Saviour, to adore the fovereignty of the awful dif- 
penfation. 

At the fame time, however, to encourage thofe 
humble penitents, who, under a conviiSlion of their 
guilt, might be ready to fear, that the condemnation, 
he had denounced, would fall upon them, he repre- 
fcnted his own fupreme authority and divine perfec- 
tions, commenfurate to thofe of the Father, and then 
declared his peculiar tendernefs and grace to all, who 
might be bowed down with a fenfe of their fin anJ 
mifery. He publiflied the mod kind and ^tivetal ici- 
L 6 VxVsXx^tw 



i 



^l8 SCtlFTCTBI CRACACTIKi; 

vitadoo to all, wix> felt a burdeaed confiriMoe ani 
fou^l deliverance, ^iog expre6 and abfidute afliir 
nuicea of pardoiH peace, and fiilvation, on didr 
unfeigned application and cordial fidHntffioa to 
him. 

We ailc, dien, What conceptions do you fom of 
Jefus; what regard do you Oisw him? Do d>jec« 
tioos arife in your minas, and prevent ycnur ooidial 
belief of the Gofpel ? But after fudi nrooft, as hate 
been adduced, who (hall complain of ttie want of eri* 
dence ? Have you no i^prehenfiona of the tremeo* 
dous confequences of rejeiSing him? Shall Chortfin^ 
Bethfaida, and Capernaum be condemned with ac* 
cumulated woes for their infidelity, and you efcapr 
unpuniflied? Or, do you confider yourfelves a$ at* 
teny excluded from his notice, and incapable of n^ 
ceiving mercy, on account of your extreme depravity 
and long continuance in fin? He fpeaks exprefily to 
your cafe, and gives you diredion and encourase- 
menti fuited to your diflrefe. O keep not at a oK* 
tance from ^im, while He fays, *' Cone unto me!'' 
He will not difdain you, nor withhold his bleflingi 
from you, •* He is meek, and lowly in heart;" 
and, therefore, be will condcfccnd to your requeft, 
mean and worthkfs as you are^r Only, be wtlhrr^j 




JESUS CHltISf« 994 



who fought opportunities of doing good in all pla< 
and among all characters, readily complied *. Oii^ 
ring his vSit there, a Angular circumftance occurred* 
which ihewed the ignorance and pride of the Pha-- 
rifee, and the amazing grace and companion of the 
Saviour. A woman in the town, who had been m 
notorious finner, and, as it is fuppofed, infamous for 
her lewdnefs, having heard where he was, and, pro^ 
bably, being emboldened by his afTurances of mercy 
find peace to the mourning penitent, defired to give 
jbme teftimony of her ftrong regard for him, and for 
that purpofe prepared certam coftly perfumes, with 
whidi fbe might anoint him. She was admitted into 
his prefence, while he was at dinner; and ftandin^ 
behind him, as he lay reclined upon the couch, fhe 
betrayed marks of extreme diftrefs, and wept to fucl^ 
a degree, with unfeigned contrition for her fins, that 
her tears flowed down upon, and bedewed, the feet 
q( the Saviour, which, therefore, (he wiped with her 
diOievelled hair. Nor was this all: fhe could not 
refrain, ieven before the company^ from expreffions 
of her ardent gratitude and love: (he kifTed his feet^ 
»nd poured her rich ointment upon them, not pre« 
fuming to do it upon his head. 

Thefe figns of her fervent afFc<aion our Lord did 
not difdain, but received them favourably. TTie Pha- 
rifec, however, who looked on her with contempt, 
took offence. Lifted up with a proud conceit of his 
own goodnefs, he confidered the very touch of the 
woman as carrying defilement with it, and concluded 
that a prophet of God mufi not only know the bafe- 
Befs of her character, but inftantly turn away from 
her with difguft. This difpofition is not uncommon* 
Thofe, who have high thoughts of themfelve?, fet 
up a kind of claim to the divine regard, and cannot 
bear, that fuch, as have been notorious offenderr 

. • Luke vii. 36-^50. 



"^Jfi SCRIPtURE CHARACTK&S. 

fhould be admitted to a (hare in that regard, or dnt 
any encouragement (hould be given to them, even 
when transformed and eftabliflied ^* in newnefs of 
life." But how large is the grace, how great the 
condefcenflon, of Jeius \ He did not fcorn the poor, 
weeping penitent, though (he had been moft aban- 
doned, and long enflaved in the fervice of Satin; but 
he received, he comforted, he defended her, at the 
hazard of his own reputation. 

He replied, in a very appofite parable, to the fecret 
obje£^ion$ of the Pharifee (for he had not avowed 
them), (hewing, that of two debtors, both of whom 
are infolvent, and both freely releafed from their ob- 
ligations by their generous creditor, he, to whom the 
largeft forgivenefs is extended, will feel the warmefl 
gratitude. He then referred immediately to die cafe 
of Simon and the woman, reproving hicn for the 
neglciSt of thofe tokens of rcfpcSt to him which are 
ufually paid to welcome vifitants, and commendii^ 
her for the expreffions of her regard, however extra- 
vagant they might feem. The Pharifee thought hh 
own offences few and trivial, and, therefore, he couU 
not entertain any high value for the Saviour; but 




JESUS CHRIST. 2jr 

ceived to favour, but to cftablifli her the more in 
thankfulnefs, hope, and joy, he folemnly pronounced 
her abfotution: *' Thy fins are forgiven." That 
very circumftance occafioned frcfh offence among 
thofe, who were prefcnt; for they had no juft con- 
ceptions of the perfon and authority of Jefus. But, 
in order to declare his divine charaAer moft peremp- 
torily, and to aflert his high prerogative, however 
they might cavil at it, he repeated the afTurance of 
her pardon and falvation, through faith in his name, 
and difmifled her in peace. 

A ferious attention to this little narrative may fug- 
geft the following enquiries, which will fiirni(h an 
ufeful improvement of the fubjeft. 

Are we not debtors to God, according to the de- 
fcription of the parable? Have we not failed of that 
obedience, which He has a right to demand.^ Is not 
our debt large, immenfe, beyond any calculation we 
can form i Let us beware of the ignorance and pre* 
fumption of the Pharifee. Though others may feem 
to owe far more than we, will this procure^ our dit- 
charge? Or are there any, among the moft atrocious 
c^enders, whom we maydifdain? Docs it not, ra- 
ther, become us to confefs, that our own tranfgref- 
fions are innumerable, and, confidering how we have 
violated the ftrongeft obligations to God, that none 
can need forgivenefs more than we ? 

Are we not, likewife, infolvent? Or, in what 
manner fhall we contrive to anfwer all the claims, 
which the Lord God has upon us? What payment 
can we tender ? Is it fuch, as will be fufficient to fe- 
tisfy his juft demands ? It is faid, perhaps, ." We 
fhail repent, and do better.'* But (hall we ever per- 
form more than would have been due from us, if 
I we had not (inned? And, if we only prevent an in- 
^ creafe of the debt in future, can this have any eSc&: 
' in diminifhing what is already contraSed, or wi^ ofi 
/. any pare of the old account againft u&t Vf VvaX^ ^^b»c 



9pf flCRIPTiJRB CHAftACmr.. 

(hall we refolve on? Let us not wafle tbe tim^ ixt 
forming vain and fruitlefs fchemes of our own, but 
frankly acknowledge our ioabilitj, and go with deep^ 
eft humiliation to that Jefus, who ^' reeeiveth fin* 
ners/' Let each of us cry to Him, ** O Lord, un- 
dertake for me:" He will appear as our ** Surety/' 
and prefent us with a full and free difchargs. if, 
like this penitent woman, we mourn and weep at his 
feet, he wiU obferve our tears, commiferate our diC^ 
trefs, and haften to comfort us with the afliirancc^ 
that " our fins, which are many, are forgivi?n." 

If, then. He pronounce us to be acquitted, what 
fliould hinder, but that we depart in peace ? This is^ 
his own gracious propofal, and ought not to be re- 
fufed. Yet do not many rcje£k tbe confolation, and 
indulge an excefs of (brrow? Doubtlefs, there is con- 
tinual caufe to abhor ourfelves, and lament our fully; 
but to grieve as if there were no hope, is to defpife* 
the mercy provided. Jefus, ^ mighty to fave," the 
compaffionate Redeemer, ftands ready to wipe away 
our tears, and bids us ** Be of good cheer." Let us- 
only, without referve, fubmit to him, and depend 
upon him; and then we may ^' go oiv our way K" 




JESUS cHRirr. ajj 

compcnfation j but do we not wifli to teftify the fenfe^ 
which we feel, of our immenfe obligations to him f-— 
*' O Lofd, come, and flied abroad thy love in our 
hearts by the Holy Ghoft, that we may hereby be 
conftrained to dedicate ourfelves, our,, fouls and bo* 
dies, to be a reafonable, holy, and lively facrifice 
Vnto Thee, who haft loved us, and given thyfelf for 
usl" Amcnt 



n* 



SCRlPTUltE CHARACTERS* 



JESUS CHRIST. 



SECT. t6. 



ytfui td5k ffmthiT circuit — hialed a dem&mac^^vinM' 

caUd that miraele^ ag^infl the ^hje^hns pf the Ph^ 
rifets — admmijhid and reprovid ihtm-^and imW' 
ragid his faithful adhennts. 

The grand luminary, which vifJted the earth In 
the perfon of J^fus ChriiVj dlffufcd its unequalled 
fjilcndour through a large extent* Happy indetd 
would have been the men of that generation, if thty 
had been fenfible of their i n eft im able privilege, in hav* 
ing fuch an Inhabitant, fuch a Teacher amongft themt 
He brought with him ** good tidings of great iov to 




JESUS CHRIST. 2J5 

be willing t© facrifice our eafe to ufefulnefi. *^ Loofc 
not every man on his own things, but every man alfo 
on the things of others." So (hall " this mind be 
in you, which was alfo in Chrift Jefus *.'* A fimi- 
lar benevolence may be difplayed even by perfons of 
moderate abilities and private fituations. According 
to our talents and occafions, we (hould lay ourfelves 
out for the glory of God and the beft interefts of our 
fellow-creatuies. Hereby we Ihair evince our ac- 
quaintance and union with him, whofe name we bear, 
while " we are changed into the fame image from 
glory to glory, by the Spirit of our God." 

Many who reforted to him, foon withdrew from 
his company, having no relifh for his converfation. 
But he had fome ftated attendants, throughout his 
various movements, who were almoft infeparabjy at- 
tached to him. ** The twelve were with him." 
Thefe hefelefted, as "his chofen witnefles," that 
they might be inftruded in the myfteries of his king- 
dom, confirmed in. their regard to him, and fitted for 
their apoftolic fun6tion. Certain pious Avomen, alfo, 
who had been healed of their infirmities and converted 
-by his grace, occafionally at leaft waited on him, and 
" miniftered unto him of their fubftance." What 
coiidcfcenfion in him, to receive fuch aflBftance ! He 
became very poof indeed. Though '* the earth is 
his, and the fulnefs thereof,*' fo mean and deftitute 
was his condition here, that he fubfifted upon the 
charity of others. Shall we admire their liberality, 
in contributing to his fupport? Or rather, fhall we 
not envy them the honour put upon them, in theiir 
-being permitted to do it ? " It is more bleffed to ffivcf, 
than to receive f." And may not this bleffednefs be 
our's? Though we cannot minifter unto Jefus, in 
his perfon, we may do it in his representatives, in 
his diftrcfled members. For what is beftowed upon 

♦ PhiK ii. if, 5« -^ xett x». ^v • 



a 36 SCRIPTURX CHiUlACTI&9» 

them, he will conflder as beftowed upon bitdHf» 
i^nd, if we ^^ flxut up our bowels of compaflion fionfe 
them, how dwelleth the love of- Gad in us*?** 

Thus attended) then, JeAis took another circuity 
in which we Audi meet with fome remafkaUe occur* 
rences. In the courfe of his progreis, a poor uji* 
happy man, under the pofleffion of die Devil, fo 
grievoufly afflicted as to be deprived both of lus fight 
and fpeech, was brought to h'un, aod obtained im* 
mediate relief f. According to his cuftoni» he paid, 
a gracious regard to the application, by expelling the 
evil fpirit, and relloring tiie demoniac to the per&d 
exercife of his faculties. And virhat efie£l did the 
miracle produce ? The common people were ftruck 
with aftoniihment, and ready to draw the conclufioo^ 
that Jefus muft be the promifed Meffiah. But were 
not thefe peribns ignorant, and liable to lie impoied 
on ? lliat they were unlettered^ it is adlowcd^ nor 
was that circumftance any diiadvantagc to them in. 
the prefent cafe : for they were as capable of judgiq; 
of plain h&Sj as the acuteft PhiloCbpliers. -loe 
Scribes and Phaiifees, conceited of their wUSom, likr 
IT) oft pretenders to fciencc^ pofTcfled more pride, tni 




JESUS CHRIST. I37 

Bccomplice of the Devil ? No : the farthcft from tt^ 
that can poffibly be conceived. But it is not ancoiii« 
mon for men, who hate the Gofpel, to give a credit 
and importance to fuch infinuations againft i^ as 
appear, upon the very £ice of them, ridicuious and 
ialfe. 

This circumftance, however, rendered the cha- 
Ta£ler of Jefus the more illuftrieus; for it produced 
ffe(h proo]^ of his meeknefe and wifHom. His fol- 
lowers, alfo, (hould remember, that, while they pre* 
ferve a proper temper under malicious calumnies and 
reproaches, they afford fuch an evidence cf their fin- 
Cerity, and the excellency of their principles, as mufl 
eventually turn to the confiifion of their enemies. 
Our Lord fpoke in his own vindication; but his de- 
fence went rather to convince, or, at leaft, to filence^ 
his adverfaries, than to juftify himfelf. ^ It is a 
very fmall thing, that we (hould be judged of man's 
judgment;" and therefore, if we be ever fo much tra- 
duced (and it is not poffible that we can be more (b 
than the Saviour), let us not be folicitous, on our 
own account merely, to obviate the charges, which 
envy or malevolence may bring againft us. Yet there 
may be reafons, which may render it expedient to 
reply. 

Jefus fhewed that he was privy to their thoughts, 

for he fpoke to their fecret furmifes, while he proved 

their obje£l:ions to be mofl foolifh and profane. He 

argued, that Satan would never oppofe his own in- 

tereft, or difpofTefs himfelf; for fuch a conduft would 

ilfalliblv weaken, and even deftroy, his kingdom 

ihiongfi men : and on the fame ground we maintain, 

hat, the Gofpel, which conuins a fyftem of religion, 

lanifefHy fubvcrfive of the Devil's influence in Ac 

rorld, muft be from heaven. He alleged, that, as 

ley believed fome of their own difciples to caft out 

!mons by the Spirit of God, they ou^Kl wA \J^ rf 

ibe his miracies to any other cvife. Ou ^ 



JESUS CHRIST. 23^ 

fied, that they do not fet themfelves in an avowed rc- 
fiflance againft Chrift and his meafures ! You, who do 
not oppofc the Gofpel, or thofe, who profefs it, mav 
boaft of your candour and liberality; and, becaulc 
you are not open enemies, you prefume upon being 
accounted his friends. But you are moft unhappily 
deluded. Your indiflference about his caufe, he con- 
Uders as a marked contempt of him : and therefore he 
thanks you not, merely becaufe you abftain from 
hoftilities; bur, while you refufe to exert yourfelves 
for him, he looks upon you as being in the intereft 
of his grand opponent. 

Jefus, perceiving in thefe proud and malevolent 
cavillers a confirmed hatred of him, warned them ftill 
further of their danger in daring to afcribe to Satan's 
agency, what had been efFefted only by the divine 
Spirit. He declared, that, while the Gofpel offers 
a full and free forgivenefs of " all manner of fin and 
blafphemy," one offence is excepted, and that ** the 
blafphemy againft the Holy Ghoft fliall not be for- 
given unto men." 

This is a moft tremendous aflertion indeed! It 
(hould excite, a holy fear and circumfpediibn in us all. 
We ought to beware, that we do not even approach 
to this fin; much lefs fhould we imitate the profane 
effrontery of thofe, who deny or ridicule the opera-^ 
tions of the Holy Ghoft. It is far better to keep 
at a diftance from it, than to underftand exa£tly the 
particularnature and precife limits of it. ' But it may 
be proper to enquire, of what kind the offence is, of 
which fuch awful things are fpoken. Many painful 
apprehenfions are entertained by perfons of a tender 
confcience, as if they had certainly committed it, and 
therefore, by the divine decree, were abfolutely and 
for ever excluded from mercy. But fo for, perhaps, 
^ we may confidendy affirm, that thofe who are moft 

oppreffed with the dread of it, are leaft in danger 
^ having contracted this enormous guilt* 

4. ^ 



14* foupttmi etiAmjieTiftf. 

From t e«a^pan&M of the dtflfcrait parages In tl^e k* 
crtd (CTipiuTci^ wkixre die fin is fpokcn of *, it appears 
m he ka eniiic rtjcfttofl of the falvation of the Go(pt\t 
And £oc¥ tbcfc IS noodier remedy for our fallen l?acff 
irfba OiaQ cmjliini ifter itiieir own deliberate rdnkl 
tf i% Ikat ||i^cx)IiCm)uc»:cs are fa terrible f Yet this 
il ix^^ : it b an a^ov^ ar>d continued opposition to 
tbe §T»Cc of Chf I fr* The P^nJecs, tn whom our Lord 
fpOike, pcrfrc\iied mkI ca'ymolaied him, as a^og 
under the d^rc^ca of Satan. But the moft d€cidM 
eiupity «^oft him ts oot, of itfelf^ unpardonible, 
MiftVi who h*^ e mad.' tong aod furious rcfilTancc to 
him, tiare Aund mcrqr. Sunt PauJ bimfcif had once 
been *■ 1 bliUKmer ^ni^ a pcrfeiitor ;" and it is pro- 
bable, thsl iwe^ mtio had *^ crucified tbe Lord of 
giGry," wffe ftdrerticd to God by tbe very blood, 
which they fced* Bi*: they finned igaorajitly. The 
offeiK^c, here fpccifiedt t* committed agtmilftrong 
erkicDCe and cofi%i3ion of the tnith. C)ne mincie 
upon mother hi4 been irnw|ht in tbe fight of tbofe, 
who coiitiiiticd to le^ik oar LJUii i and probably dief 
s£tcd in fepugfiancc tQ the full fvetftranon of tbdt 
dwo mlais^ Yet it is fttppofed by Jbme, diat Jefin 



JESUS CHRIST. 141 

marked, that ^ backfliding," though* attended with 
circum^ances of peculiar aggravation, may obtain 
forgivenefs with God, and that then only we may 
fear, it is the black offence, to which remiilion is 
denied, when it involves in it a malicious and con* 
firmed oppofition to the truth. For it fliould care- 
fully Be noted, that it is never followed by contrition 
or godly forrow, but always accompanied with an 
unrelenting obduracy of mind. The apoftate, whofe 
cafe is defperate, cannot be ^^ renewed unto repent- 
ance." Thofe, therefore, who feel a tendernefs of 
confcience, and a real compundion of heart for the 
guilt they have contraded, and who (eek deliverance 
by the blood of Jefus, afford the ftrongeft evidence^ 
that the fin, here fpoken of, is not chargeable to their 
account, however they may be opprefled by the 
painful apprehenfion. . After all, any other tranf- 
greflion againft God, if perfevered in, will be fatal 
and damnable to the foul ; and yet, in every inftance^ 
forgivenefs is in this life promifed and granted to tho 
humble and believing penitent. 

But why, it may be aiked, was this fevere admo- 
nition addrefled to the Pharifees? Had they caft off 
all regard to religion? No: but their profefEons were 
hypocritical, as their words and a&ions clearly proved*. 
Jefus, therefore, exhorted them to a conflftency of 
conduct, either in one way or another, by giving up 
themfelves to God fincerely and without referve, or 
elfe by throwing off their pretences to piety, and ap- 
pearing openly and avowedly wicked j that 10 the firuit 
might accord with the nature of the tree ♦. They 
had uttered blafphemous expreffions, from which he 
proceeded to convid: them of their guilt and danger* 
He affirmed, that they had fpoken agreeably to their 
inward difpofitions, and that the fource of all foolifli 
and profimeconverladon lies in a depraved and uncon* 

# Miu zU. 33, ftc. Mark iii. ji| Ac kukft>l« %V*\^« 



•.: j:*ttvki characters. 

. . ■ . - !:::'> iT.-'-S.d be made light of, as 

. . :. ■; :.: ttztz ihin 2 mere breath of 

V : . . ■ : . - : --fr^ce, r.e w:;r r.ed them, that 

' r... -.-.rr: :j^;-i£:Tyient, not only for 

1 . ..... : . -? i:.c::i-::5, but for all their 

. . . : .. :*: m: their common difcouiic 

. . ^: : . . :;.:---;. :f ce of the ftate of their 

" . i ::;- :. : . : i:c-!::-I cr to their condem- 

:^ c.-":f-.-: none but the ancient 
" : . . . z z.'.': re tried for the words 

. . . ■ . > " t'.i: ri. irrm be aiii^ned accord- 

■ ■ : - V ;-r7. r'r-ey fliall deliver? Yet 

% , .;^ :•: :. *^irrv cf his converfation, or 
t ....*;:;: J: :. :r-: r.e may not be alhameJ 
: •• . ;...-.•■::"■::;•-:■ '.r. the djy of judgment:*' 
■ : : -.- -::rje cf the heart the mouth 
N . ■ . - . f- - . V. e :Tir.d the teft ; or what will 
c,:' PTTfjiliTg t c m pcis arj p^oas appear to have 
br^Ts. Do DOC the mcKti^ d tn^y among us utter 
b-LphctcT; mi odief^d=Bgiit in exprefiions of lewd* 
rc£s to id e ft ud rrrifiiigr Where are thofc,' w^o 
ccrtVr^ lo tti€ spoftolic rule? ** Let no corrupt 




JESUS CHRIST. a4S 

vifible difpUy of his divine glory, or an appearance 
from heaven, which fhould carry abfolute demonftra* 
tion with it. How prepofterous was this! Shall 
proud and obdurate finners prefcribe to God, by what 
particular kind or degree of teftimony he Ihall con- 
firm his own revelations to them ? Jefus, therefore, 
declared, that no other fort of atteftation should be 
granted, till his own refurredion, which, he foretold, 
would happen on the third day from his death, agree* 
ably to its t)ipical refemblance in Jonah's miraculous 
deliverance. He reproved them for their obftinato 
impenitence and unbelief, and threatened them with 
the moft aggravated punifliment, inafmuch as they had 
defpifed him, though the Ninevites had repented at the 
preaching of Jonah, who was in every refpeft infe* 
rior to him. He referred them, alfo, to the Queen 
of Sheba, who had travelled from a remote country^ 
with much pains and expenfe, that ihe might proht 
by the wifdom of Solomon, while they had fhewn, 
the utmoft contempt and hatred of him, who was in- 
conceivably greater than Solomon; and he warned 
them, that her example would condemn their per« 
verfenefs. 

Are we fatisfied with the proofs, brought in favouf 
of the Gofpcl? Nothing, indeed, but a proud or fen- 
fiial difpofition will lead us to obje6l to their fuffici- 
ency. Many in our own day, like the unbelievers of 
old, call for additional and ftronger evidence, and 
prefuraptuoufly refufe to examine that, which is al- 
ready propofed to them. But the Lord God is npt 
at their command ; nor will he model his difpenfations 
according to their wifhes. O beware, left in righte- 
ous judgment for your arrogance, he leave you to 
yourfelves! *' Light is come into th? world;'* and, 
if your eyes have not difcerned its excellency, the 
reafon is, you have' *' loved darknefs rather than 
light:" and your final condemnation will be m.ich 
more aggravated, when you are compart yiVici^ 
M 2 



Mmi anJ gave him a more critire al^nd 
them ; and therefore Jefus foretold, ihat 
Jlate would be worfe than the ftrft-*' On 
fion he delivered the parable of the relapfiJ 
niac* The evil fpirit may depart for a timi 
had q fitted his hold of the pf>or enilaved Gi 
yet may return to his poffcilion^ Tbe dq 
apeiT, the heart prepared to comply with M 
lions, and no contrary principle forbiddiQ| 
mtfrion, he will enter with greater flreogty 
the captive foul, with increafing obduracy,] 
degree of ^vitkednefs to another. 

Thi^ defer ibes a common cafc. Many m 
affe«Sed by the faithful and lively preach in{ 
Gofpel I aiwl a temporary reformation tal 
with them* Their attention may be rota 
pailiona moved, and efpeciaily their fears all 
the IVf iking addreiTes of fome plain practical j 
and then they cannot continue in the famd 
finfal habits as before. Like Herod^ whq 
John the Baptift gladly, and did many thu^ 



JESUS CHRIST. S4f 

attack of a diforder. << Evil men and ieducers wax 
worfe and worfe ♦:" **thc latter end h worfe with 
them than the beginning f.** Let us, therefore, 
implore the Gcd of all grace, fo to drive out the 
prince of darknefs, that he himfelf ma^rake full and ' 
everlafting pofTeffion of our fouls, and nothing be. 
^^ able to ieparate us from the love of God, which is 
in Chrift Jefus our Lord/* 

In this awful manner Jefus continued to preach the 
word, with unfhaken fortitude and unwearied pati- 
ence, expofing himfelf to the malevolence of his ene- 
mies by his pointed reproofs, and exhaufting his bo- 
dily ftrength by his inceiiant labours. While he was 
thus employed, a certain woman, impreiTed by his ex- 
hortations, exclaimed, as if in envious admiration of 
the happinefs of her, who was favoured with fuch a 
Son : but be replied, that a far greater privilege is 
conferred on thofe, who believe and obey the Gofpeh 
His pious mother, together with fome of his near re- 
lations, flood at a diftance, anxious for his fafety, 
.and, probably through an apprehenfion of danger, 
wifhed to call him away; but they were prevented 
from approaching him by the crowds, which fur- 
rounded him. It was, therefore, intimated to him, 
that they were waiting to fpeak with him. But he, 
fiill intent upon his important work) and to encou^ 
rage the attendance of his faithful followers, declared, 
that th9fe, who truly received and pradifed his word, 
were much dearer to him, than the neareft among 
bis earthly connections, merely as fuch, could pofli- 
bly be. He meant not to flight his mother, or any 
of his kindred,. but to (hew that we fhould be fups- 
rior to all carnal and worldly regards, by looking be- 
yond the ties of confanguinity; and, in order to ani- 
mate his difciples to diligence and perfeve ranee in his 

-• ft Tim. iii. ij. fa Pet. ii. ao. 

M 2 fc\Nf\« 



246 SCRIPTURE CHARACTERS. 

fervice, he took that opportunity of expreffing bft 
warmeft afFedion for them. 

Are any perfons ready to congratulate the bleflcd 
Virgin, who had the diftinguiOied honour of bringing 
forth the Saviour of mankind? The way is here point- 
ed out, in which you may obtain a fuperior dignity. 
Only yield an unfeigned refpeft to the Gofpel, give 
lip your uholc hearts to God, and walk in cheerful 
1 bjdience to his commands, and you (hall bl? happier, 
a I'd dearer to Jcfus, than any natural relation to him 
could make you. If you profefs a peculiar attach- 
ment to him, and number yourfelves among his fol- 
lowers, we afk, whether you arc willing to walk in 
lu)Iiner«, as he requires. Are you iatisfied with 
paying him an unmeaning compliment, as if it could 
j)!('afe him, to cry, '* Lord, Lord," while you re- 
gard not his precepts? But obferve, that he pro- 
nounces his benediicion upon thofe, who not only 
KEAR, but DO, his word, and perform " the will of 
his Father." Are you fuch ? Or, are you not con- 
icious, that fome or other of your tempers and prac- 
tices exprefsly contradift his injundlionsf You oiuft 
fearch out, and put away from you, " the accuried. 




JESUS CHRUT. 147 

But let << the finners'in Zton be afiraid, aod fear- 
fulnefs furprife the hypocrites." The eve or Teios 
difcerns your infinccrity, under every fpecicus df- 
guife, which you may aifume. And in wrut lig'-.r 63 
ou appear befgre him? Does he reg^ri you i5 *- .2 
rother, a fifter, and a mother?" No: h- c^riV? 
the bafenefs of your chara<5ter; and he ^II a.e-:rs 
the infults, you put upon him. O cal o? the :iLii 
of an unfound profeffion; confef? year I'ci rv; ['.•• 
to him for pardon, while he vv^ic^ :o .- - :-i:':.--; 
and implore the influence of hi* Spirr, •- : lie :-ii 
be auy eiUblUb your beairts«uabLtaub.c i 



bi 



M 



^4^ 



«CXI?TtJEE CRARACl'SXt* 



JESUS CHRIST. 



SECT. 17. 

Jefus repaired to the fea-Jhore^ and inJtruSltd the frml- 
t'ltude by the parables of the fiwer — the tares — the 
growth of corn — the grain of mujiard-feed^^tbe lea* 
ven in meal — the treafure hid in a field — the pearl of 
great price^'^nd the net gathering different kinds ^ 
fijhes, r 

The life, at leaft the public life, of Jefus was very 
fhorr, but, being employed in almoft conftant exer« 
tions for the glory of God and the benefit of men, it 
v/as crowded with important events. If we poilefled 
a larger meafure of his acSHvity and zeal, much might 
be flone in the contrafled period of our exiilcnce 




arc, cvldccdr, '9r±rz -yz' ;>rnr^ l .^ r --hl^ T- r 
to " ihcd ai: i^sd Ijs I:' s -: : '^ t^=ir: : i - • : r 
Ghoft," ::^ Li -irc TUi- — fr - _ - .- 
Then Cuil w* l*.n=s:. rsi.- 'xr -.T-^fr-. / -^ . -it- ^ 
fo conf.r.ed, ini r^it i»Lr zktl ^.it: :.-n: --^ : r - 
porti-::'! tj :hs sr.::,: of -jr- osirr: 

No loop.t: i.: .'^:'-i i_ t is* i j- -z. s-.rr ** 
had withdr£-*T, -.zir. jz:ziis:'.\' rLTi.i*^. _-t . -.-^ 
him, as bercrt •. it— r iit-zz:: --" - — *• tr. r 
the betrcr conv^.-utrj::; i'" itl: :r::.: :. ; — ^-r:- -j. 
he entered :r.:^ * 11.7- riir v .— - ... ^'-.■. 1,- 
p^opie, who :*;:c -lor. tt* il..-» .t . -r -. i-r ^^ 

parabies, tar: is- rrntrTsii .1.^:^*:^ - "rr .-^ .-. 
tions, taiccr. fri/oi tae -ri -IT- -.r.- ^.-- .- . -; 
which, wi:!i & c:'r::3.^i :.:r. — - j- --. . .-, 

This mctnoi -ix :tir:..Xir »ii - -r. --r' i-;- •- 
ancients; ar-£ :: = :^--c: ■ tik-t.-:*-- < . .^- . *- 
mind, anc Isiie 2. j.f i.^' rT-:-»:5:--' j^ .' ■ - • - 
mory. He yr.zry'.ir. :- r.-t ..--:-L-r%' -- - ^ 

dicncc, tbcr: a£tT-i»jK I'T-'u'* r. r:, -- . - 
of this 'iLr.ij 2-. -.c rr^irr it--:;.: : -. .'_- , - ,: . - 
of his iangdoEc -pcc: ts;-^-. r..-^ 'i:-^-:--? - ,•» 

me.Tibcis, its griSLi^a:-^::«rr:r.4!0"-'- - .1 . . . -. - 
bleffings. 

The parib^ cf ne .'-. vrr t^r;-;, :-- - .- 

Here an 2ner.-Jvt i.TC iii.^«r: :.^>-'.^r. - : - ■ ^ 
bited, in the z^Mr.'Ji, -j -^z 'str.-r.'.- * •-. ^- , 
reus of •^TOZ'y.T.i.z i. i.'rt .-rj-»i.r: :.* -.v^ -^<^' • ><• 
good feed (hc'-li >i Tv*! ^v-r r -r :sr' v .- 
as it conn:!^ oc i ~:*::r. o-^ -/ i^_ tu*. -r^-.-; *^-<: 
very differ*:::, L: tint :iji:-t. wn#?r» -. .»- /.- ^ - - # -r. 
hard as a beasez pan, rzA ktri '- Ji^t :.'v *.-•.:- ^.:' 
as it la^ cxpcc^ ;: vk •:-:'-*r «:r-vvt:c j i-j^ v< 
of pailengcis^ os ^ v^-tr: i*s 'ix^t tini^ 

• Mai. tZ. I— «> 16cft ••- s—c-j U«e<r-i 



250 SCRIPTURE CHARACTERS. 

pl::cc afforded a promifing appearance for a fliort time: 
the (*roimd was rocky being covered only with a tfaia 
coat of earth ; and this for a while gave nouriibment 
to the grain, which was caft upon it; but, having 
no depth, it could not defend the root from the 
fcorching fun; and therefore the whole of the pro- 
duce foon withered away. A third fituation proved 
unfavourable to the good feed; for the thorns, which 
grew there, checked the efforts of the rifmg corn, 
and efJ'edually prevented it from conning to maturity. 
Was, therefore, all the labour vain? No: there was 
one portion of the field which anfwered the expeda- 
tions of the owner ; for it brought forth a plentiful 
increafe, though in various degrees, which gradually 
ripened till the time of harveft, and was then gathered 
into the barn. 

At the conclufion of this little narration, Jefus re- 
quired his audience to fix their attention upon it, im- 
plying that truths of great importance were contained 
in it. He prx)claimed aloud, " He that hath ears to 
hear, let him hear;" which intimated, that fomc 
would underftand and regard the inftruftion, whilft 
it would be totally loft upon others. 

But vtherefore did ht ufe fuch a ftudf 




^ JESUS CHRIST* 2Sl 

vealcd unto you, my beloved friends. And this 
method is agreeable to the righteous proceedings of 
God, who difpenles his favours to men, according to 
their temper and improvement. Thofe, therefore, 
who have refufed to be convinced on the ftrongeft 
evidence, and contemptuoufly rejected all the offers 
of my grace, fhall be given up to a judicial blindnefs 
and obduracy; fo that, how long foever they may be 
fpared under means and ordinances, they never will 
be brought to a true and fpiritual underflanding of 
the Gofpel. How great, then, is your bleflediiefs, 
who have obtained a divine illumination, whereby 
you will perceive the doctrines, which I deliver, and 
feel their powerful influence upon your minds! You 
are diftinguiflied above the moft eminent faints of 
old, who law but through a glafs darkly, and looked 
forwards, with ardent defires, to the advantages and 
privileges, which you uow enjoy." 

Such was the purport of our Lord's, interefting ad- 
drefs to his difciples: and a folemn warning it con- 
veys to us. We muft render an account to God, for 
the religious opportunities, with which we are fa- 
voured. He hath fent to us the Gofpel of his Son, 
and He will fliortly enquire. What reception we have 
given it. Are there none among u?, who will not 
even examine it with ferioufnef , but, like the Pha- 
rifees, difdainfully put away th^ truth from them ? No 
wonder, then, that to you, who are of this x ha rafter, 
the doctrines of Jefus appear obfcure or inconfiftent, 
O be afraid, left, while you (hut your eyes and ftop 
your ears, God determine in his wrath, that they ne- 
ver fhall be opened ! The day of grace may be ex- 
pired, with refpefl: to fome, even while they are fuf- 
fered to remain upon earth. O liften to thofe, who 
befeech you, " that ye receive not the grace of God 
in vain!" — ^^ Behold, now is the accepted time ; be- 
hold, now is the day of falvation * !" 
» 2 Cor. v\. 1, 2» 

M 6 



^5* _ tCRIPTUm CHARACTERS* 

This very caatlon Js inculcated in the parable be- 
fore u6* That wc may enter more fully into the 
fubje^t, let as advert to our Lord's explanation* 
]du^ is ^^ the So^veV who by himfelf and his inim^ 
Itcro fc alters 13b road the go^^d leed of his word. But 
alas ! the moft ejtcclknc inftru<5lion does not alwa)'* 
produce the defired influence: in numerous inftances 
it is rendered unfruitful- Through various caufcs 
men arc prcvent<!d from receiving that real advantage 
by It^ which it is calculated to c&6t, Thefe caufrt 
txift in the men themfclvej. 

Some are bard and impeiietrabfe as the ground, on 
which they tread 1 fitly compared, therefore, to ** die 
way-tide/' They give no ferious attention to the 
monientous truths, which they hear, nor take any 
piuns to under 11 and them. Upon thefe, then, no good 
iiiipreilion is made: the word preached to thetn is 
fovi\ forgotten and loft : they do not even rcfift the 
attempts of Satan, who is hovering about them, like 
a devouring bird, and who, to fruftrate the defign of 
the Gofptl, will artfully contrive to divert their minds 
from it, by propofmg fubjcfis more pleafing to their 
carnal nature. 




JESUS CHRIST. asj 

A third fort may.alfo promife fair, and prdcnrc a 
fhew of piety for a length of time. The corn fprix^ 
up, and may endure the various changes of tne wc». 
thcr. Yet it does not thrive; for thorns fiirrotind 
and choke it. Ah! how many conftandy attend apoo 
the miniftry of the Golpel, in whom no £iring effi- 
cacy is produced! The cares, riches, and pleafiires 
of life fo engrofs their minds, that no proper heed 
can be given to the truth, which is heard; and, of 
confequence, it is loft upon them; for, with a heart 
fo much attached to fecular concerns, diey cannot 
pofTefs any fpiritual life or vigour. They may nbia* 
tain their place in the vifiUe church; but, wncn we 
look for the fruits of righteoufiicfs in them, we are 
difappointed ; and therefore dieir religion b vain. 

But the labour of the hufbandman is not in eraj 
inftance unprofitable. There are thofe, who le* 
femble the good ground, prepared by divine grace (or 
a due reception of the heavenly word, ibeir &- 
preme regard is fixed upon it; they perceiTc its ins- 
portant meaning, and cherifh it in their hearts, tSl 
the grand Hefign of it is anfwered. ^ They w£k 
worthy of the Lord unto all plea&ng, being &u'*t&l 
in every good work, and incrcafing in the knowitdze 
of God ♦." A difference, indeed, in their exc5- 
lence and ufefulneis is obfervable ; but all brioz forth 
fruit to maturity, and Ibme in an eminent ocgree. 
Their fmcerity is proved by their perfnrcra^xe in 
holinefs. They cmture every triai ; for they ftand 
both the winter's cold, and the i\immc:\ heat, isd 
•' go on unto perfeSion.** 

Can we avoid making the application? If we are 
favoured with the preaching of ^ the everlafttng (jU* 
pel," and conftantly attend upon it, let m enquire. 
What is the tfkSt produced r Do we ftriciAr tatJa,^ 
late on what we hear? Is any deep and h^ 

• CoL L io» 

4 



524 SCRIPTURE CHARACTERS. 

prefHon fixed upon our minds? Are any Ipiritual 
principles implanted, and habits formed ? Is our re- 
ligion fuch, as will carry us through temptations and 
pcrfecutions ? Is it fuch, as renders us fuperior to the 
felicitations of the flefh, and the allurements of the 
world ? Do none of thefe things take up that time 
and thought, which fhould be devoted to the care of 
the foul ? And are we not, confequently, in a lean 
and barren flate, notwithftanding the faithful ad« 
miniftration of the facred ordinances around us? If 
thofc only receive real advantage from the Gofpel, 
who are fo affeded by it, as to bring forth the fub- 
llantial fruits of holinefs, do we come Under that de- 
fcription ? Or what is the profit, which has accrued 
from our profeffion ? 

The Saviour fubjoined a moft folemn caution, re- 
minding his difciples, that divine light was commu- 
nicated to them for the benefit of others, and that 
they (hould make a good improvement of the inftruc- 
tions delivered to them, by recommending the fame 
important truths to the world around them. And 
ought not we, alfo, to confider, for what intent our 
religious privileges are beftowed upon us? Do we 
fhine, in our rs^fpcdiye placcsj as ** lights of the 




JESUS CHRIST. 155 

clous interference of one, who was an enemy to the 
owner of the land, and through the negligence of the 
fervants, to whom it was committed, tares were fcat- 
tered among the wheat. The injury was not difco- 
vered, till the fruit of the corn appeared ; and then it 
was propofed to root up the noxious weeds, which ob- 
ftrufted the ripening of the Crop. The mafter, how- 
ever, rejected that fcheme, as being attended with 
feme danger, and allowed the tares to remain, com- 
manding only, that in the time of harveft they (hould 
be carefully feparated, and confumed by fire, while the 
good grain fhould be collected and fecured in the 
ftorehoufe. 

What inflruflion, then, does this narrative con- 
vey? The difciples did not at firft perceive it, and 
therefore afterwards, when Jefus retired, they re- 
quefted him to explain it. In condefcenfion to their 
enquiries, he gave a clear and minute interpretation ; 
from which we learn, that the parable r^prefents the 
prefent ftate of his kingdom or the vifible church, as 
it confifts of a mixed company, hypocritical pretend- 
ers as well as real believers. Thefe may not always 
be diftiiiguifhable from each other, and for ^ife pur- 
pofes may be fufFered to continue in the fame reli- 
gious community. The latter only are " the chil* 
dren of the kingdom," entitled to its bleflingsj and 
they poffefs their high privileges merely by the grace 
of Jefus ; for He it is, who fows the good feed m hts 
iield. The former are " the children of the wicked 
one," being induced by his influence to put on the 
femblance of piety; whilft yet they bear his likenefs, 
cheerfully comply with his temptations, and do his 
work. In the raflinefs of our zeal, we might fome- 
times wifli a feparatiori to be made, that the faints of 
God might be no longer '' vexed with the filthy con- 
verfation of the wicked." But it is otherwife ap- 
pointed. We muft wait for that event till the end 
«f the world, the great harveft ; and t!ti^u^ Vio^ "wi- 



156 SCRIPTURE CHARACTERS. 

curate will be the diflindion of charaAers, how wide 
the difFerence between them ! The reapers, who are 
the Angels of God, cannot err in the awful divifion, 
which they (hall make, or appoint any individual to 
an improper pbce. Every tare fhall be burned with 
fire; every grain of wheat (hall be fafely lodged in 
the heavenly gainer. How tremendous the deftnic- 
tion of the ungodly in that " furnace of fire, where 
fhall be wailing and gnaihing of teeth !" How excel- 
lent the glory, into which the righteous fhall enter, 
where they " (hall (hine forth as the fuii, in the idng- 
dom of their Father!" 

Mav Gt)d excite in us " great fearchings of heart!" 
What is our prefent charafter? What pur fiiture 
profpefl? We are fixed in the outward Church of 
Chrift; but we are not therefore fecure of an admif- 
fion into his blifsful prefence above. Poffihly, we 
may wear the garb of bn&xty ; and others may not 
fufpect any infuicerity in us. But unlefs we are re- 
newed in righteoufhefs, and ^ have our fruit unto 
holinds," our hope is prefumptuous, and our •* cx- 
pc^tion fhall peri.h." Nor let the impenitent flat- 
ter thcmfdves, that they ftal) efcapc dete<^ion, in tht 




JESUS CHRIST. 257 

He referred them to the gradual increafe of com, 
by the inexplicable principle of vegetation, as a re- 
prefentation of die progreis of his fpiritual kiiigdooi. 
The feed is cafl into the ground, and, without any 
further care of the hufbandman, it rifes infenfiUj, 
and advances by degrees to a ftate of matoritTy whcOy 
being fully ripe, it is cut down and gathered into the 
barn. 

The interpretation is obTious. The work of God, 
both in the Church as a comraunity, and in the heart 
of each individual bdierer, is carried 00 impercep- 
tibly, like the growth of cora, in a way wluch de- 
pends not on human management, and which «e 
cannot explain. The feed may appear to pcrifli is 
the earth, or the Made to fpring up in a very tarn 
manner, while the myfterious proccft goes fo fW Jf d 
"Without interruption. Let us not deipood, tfaou^ 
we fee not the moft fevouraUe appearances at ooce; 
jior let us be impatient, though we perceive noc, afaer 
a length of time, the perfeSion of grace either m 
ourfelves or others. Let us pray, that the Golpd 
may fpread its influence fr«m one ki ogdom to ano- 
ther, and that we ourfelves nuy *^ go from fc erg' . fa 
to ftcength." We wait for the faarveft : may we^aS 
be ripening for it; that^ when the great Reaper 
*^ putteth m die fickle" (as he will at the lioar of 

* death, with refped to every feparate perfbo), we mkj 
be received into his celefHal gamer ! 

The feme inftrudion is conveyed to us in the pa- 

^ rable of the grain of mufbrd-feed. This, tiuxj^ or«e 
of the leafl of feeds, it is obferved, produced in eaft- 

^ ern countries a tree fo large, that the bird* mi;^*ic 

**, build their ncfts in its branches. This aflx^rifb- 
ing increafe exhibits tiic mighty power of G^A tn 
his providence ; and equally Hluftrious is the difpby 
of his grace, in caufin^ his Gofpel to fpr^rad ami 
.fk>uri(h, from the fmalleft and moft con*j^rnyw*JK aiy 
pearances, till it fill the earth, aad aSurd %, tt&UkiDi 



sR 



SCRIPTURE CHARACTERS- 



vw Church for men of all ranks and charaflers, and 
t.T .1.1 the nations of the World. 'I'he progrefs in our 
1.1 V IJ...V fcvni inconiidtrabif ; but we Icx^Ic forwards, 
\. :i!i ciLvrfui hopes, to thiifc t;lrvious times, when 
ill. bra ichcs of iImn tree ihall be T) enlarged, as to 
1 a;i mc moll Ji!:..:u lanJs: for " ihc kir.gdom>of 
t'.iis vvcrlJ llii.ll b Lo.'/.c the kir.gdonis of our Lord 
vJ or' hiN C:-r;il ■^■." The cufe is llniilar, with re- 
I'-^.i t.) the ciiab'illimcnt of di. inc grace in the heart 
( ; cv TV Chriiiijn. This holy principle may ficm, 
i:. !Ls b; :;:r.:iin.:, to pol.eN little influence, and pro- 
i:.ilj no L:.rc.iC improvtinent. But the plant is und^ 
ti;c peculiar care uf Heaven, and, being watered from 
above, it (hall thrive and profper. It ihall gradually 
extend its Ihoots, till it occupy every part of the foul, 
in which it has been fixed. 

Our Lord confirmed and illuftrated this truth, bj 
the parable of the leaven, which he dcfcribed as put 
into a large c.uantity of meal. This, being inconii- 
dcrable in its bulk, may lie concealed for a time, tf 
if it had no cftcclj but its operation, though fecrrti 
is powerful; and, as its fermentation ip^ead5byd^ 
jucc ^ ii will iiifluk its Javour through the wiwif 
the Go^elj which wis rf 
ro^rciff 




JESUS CHRIST/ 259 

Will be efRyJiaa! in the end* It wi!l be fdt in every 
faculty unJ member, and gain a complete afcendancy 
over the v^ht»le man. Such is the dunl advancement 
of religton iathe foul. 

Is this, what we are acquamted with, in our own 
particular ftate? It may be proper to encourage any 
fovour:ible appeariince?, v^ny feeble attempts to fervc 
Clod " in rpiiit and in truth/' ** For uho hith lIc- 
fpifed the day of fmalJ things *?" Yet we are tac^^lu 
to expect a gradual progrefs \ and iherefbre wc fliDuld 
cnqulr«j Are wj growing in grace? Do we increafs 
in fpj ritual light und vigour, and become m re and 
more confirmed in holy principles and habits? Doubt- 
Icfs, we Ihould fee) an ardent defire, that the Gofpel 
may extend its inflnence from houfe to houfe, and 
from town to town, in every nation, till it reach the 
remoteil corner^of the earth. But let us not forget 
ourfelves, nor ccafe to Hft up our prayer, that, pro- 
fefling the truth of God, we may feel more of the ef- 
ficacy of our own principles, and be graduially lr^anf- 
formed into lHc dsvlne likenefs **■ from glory to glo- 
ry." Miy the ianctifying enerrry of our rc^tiglon dif- 
fufe itfelf throughout all our faculties, and bring our 
affeftions, words, and a6lions into fubje^Stion under 
tbegovernment of Chrift! 

Thus Jefus continued to defcribe the nature of his 
kingdom by figurative illuftratioiis. This method 
of teaching, indeed, has fomething of obfcurity in 
it; and that obfcurity was intended: for many of 
his audience could not bear a more clear and avowed 
declaration, fo that he might have hazarded his life, 
by fpeaking more explicitly. Befides^ in this very 
way of delivering his inftruftions by parables, he 
accommodated himfelf to an ancient fcripture, which 
is therefore (aid to be fulfilled in him. 

• Zech»iv. 10, 



*t*»TCK« CRAVACms. ^ 

«^ i»ui«^ -we «lded, which ««ol» ' 

jfpimirinun; « b aniocxtaiitihleBwerffc 
r^XM-ish:^ Tis«ttybcre|«fcnBdl««Mfti 
^ tisir Thr Y^iadJe fukftance, not ham oaM 
4ir 3itt uinuw 9ttT dope die notice aTiSriS^ 
^^e:^ n.x ctt » be explored withoot wtpM 
]ui£Ki «a cft -JUL ^i^iQ&MB aie not awitc^ hsvadr 

v^mrt xhr« JiK^sia mkI itfyifc. But tiio^«hBp» 
^^^••rr J^ ruimmssM woidiy wUI « raokesda 
sitfC iv^^ra: ^TM ^WMly and glmij uTrnjA 
^^^ vchr: jv-4k<QB| ifiKoeflanr, that di^ ai^lb* 
C4r? ii 3(W ^^>sur o««. \Vho|» die% ano^ m m 
4k-lir.*1C^ ?<^ Mzciuiir das field, which comrimfak 
3.vv«^c£^'^ wftfJsfc? Ahs! do you not becray j«r 
.r-vwjof ,^ *^ lAie Unj^dom or heaven," whodi* 
:cv.:r :Nr v^>.^"Cl « lo low a nte? It would naitpk 
VI ;r \ ,^^ \: X cr Jfe» as it now does, if you wcreao- 
<,.t.^roi w,;i ,r* .*i iien tneaTure. You would not 
V* ..-: jci: *: :.- rJLrt widi aar thing for Chrift's fike^ 
;• ^o- .vv.v: V ;.>ifii?vxJ ihc value of his grace. 
Y*N- :X>«: o*\*r.^vpc U5x>n him, if you do not prefer 
h V to tri" Krit e *;ov.iKnis of the world, or if 70a 
hcf.urc to ^^^ ;r.ct^ uicm jlU, when they ftand in com* 
pcti:"on w.th h::«. 

This alio \\v Ifurn frc*m the pzrable of the pearl of 

Sreat price. A merchant, in fearch of rich coramo- 
iiics, ha\ ing oi.Cvn crcd a pearl of peculiar excel- 
lency, abandoned every other purfuit,and relinquiflicd 
ail his gains, thut he mi^ht purchafe that one jewel. 
Such is the man, who obtains a true knowledge of 
the Saviour, and becomes a member of his kingdom. 
I may be, he has l(»ng been in queft of happinefs, 
and each b' objea appeared to him, for a time, 

^ P(al. cxis. i62« 



JESUS CHRIST, afil 

Si beautlFuI getn: but he found continual di&p. 
^intment) till he heard of Jefus, and beheld fome* 
thing of his glory, when every thing fife loft its for- 
mer charms^ and fcemed trifling and worthlef*, in 
compurifon* Then he began to defire, moil ardent- 
ly, the grace of Jefus, and tixcd all his attention upon 
chat one point, heing willing to fuftain any lofs, and 
renounce every advantage, for the acquifition of that 
high prite. Have you, then, any proper concept 
tions of the value of Chrift, who flirink from his fer- 
vjce, becaufe it requires fo many painful iacrlfices ? 
' Do you apprehend, that you fhall pay too dear for 
his benefits? No, Sirs; this is the pearl of fo great 
^^rice, that there can be nothing in the whole world 
^Kquivalcnt to it. Give up intereft, pleafures, repu-i 
Hktipii| friends, and relatives, father^ mother, bro* 
Hliers, fiflcrs, wife, and children j yet, if Jefus be 
^your*s, we will congratulate yciu on your immenfe 
\ gain. Whatever you lofc, you receive " unfcarch- 
able and durable riches" in Himi and therefore you 
may adopt the Apoftle's exultation, " As having no- 
thing, and yet poffeffing all things •/' 

But let no man deceive himrdf. It will not fuffice 
to '* name the name of Chrift,'* where there is no cor- 
dial attachment to him* And are there not many 
profefTors of the Gofpel, who by their formality, 
worldlinefs, or fenfuality difgrace the caufe? Thefe 
weaken the hands, and diftrefs the hearts, of faithful 
minifters. Yet let us not be ftaggered, fince our 

(Lord has taught us to expe£l it by the following fimi- 
litude« 
He fubjoined another parable, taken from the prac- 
tice of iiihermcn. They call their net 'into the fca^ 
which coUeSs various kinds of fifties ; nor can any 
reparation of them be made, till they are brought to 
the (bore: but then the ufeful are preferved^ and the 

• a Cor. Ti. xo« 



i 



t62 tClIprOM dHAftACTKRi. 

^orthlrfi rejefteA So mixieJu fbenrefeftCCafedf 
die Churqb, and fiich wiU be the finaf divifion ef^ifi 
members. T^ofe, who preach the Gc^r gb Artl^ 
as k were upon the wide Vj^esn of tim «fodlj3| (o tilM# 
the net^ defirous of inclofing in Jt att< tii^r cilia 
Many may accordingly be taken,, whb may ttit be 
approved upon an exaa icrutinv* Afid-fiK^ aiba- 
tiny will be inftituted at the end of At. wM* WW 
can abide the Arid examination? TheitagidaiJl 
part the different charaders afuiideFi . hcfWMc 4kk 
their connexion may now be; They,- vAo poAeift 
only the form of godhnefs, fiiall then bjtf fk «iir 
excluded from the fociefy of the iainU^ flMig 
whom they were oumberra here; and their pMiflk 
fliall be affigned them in ^ thefui'nace of iut^^ ivkM 
they fliall for ever ^ wail'' their fia and follyj.liri 
^ gnalh their teedi*' through the eatremity of horror, 
anguifh) rage, and defpain - ^ 

So folemn and alarming wer6 the addrefles of Jc- 
fiis. And if his fervants in the Goipel muft enclea- 
vour to fpeak, as he did, they muft remind thdr 
hearers of the important diftinftion, which fubfiih 
between them, and thus, even now, by faithfiil ad- 
monitions " taice forth the precious from the vile*." 
Their work is difficult, and often painful. How ne- 
ceflary is it for them to be well acquainted with the 
relieion, which they teach ! Let them attend, then, 
to tne queftion, which Jefus propofed to his difcples: 
•* Have ye underfJood all thefe things?'* Let them 
•^cmfider, too, what in^provement fliould be made. 
The fcribcs, who are " inftru6led unto the kingdom 
of heaven," or properly qualified to declare its myfte- 
ries, rcfemblc the houfliolder, who has a large family 
•^vide for. They fhouid, therefore, treafure up 
ufeful obfervation, that they may always be 
communica:e fomething from their ftock| for 

• ct. x^. 13% 



JESUS CHRIST, 263 

^e fcrvice of the family. Whtle the^^ are concerned 
their own fupporrj they murt employ jheif fund, 



benefit 



givjn^ 1 



leir portion 



commit- 
' meat in 



rhatevcT 

ted to them, 
due feafou.'^ 

Let prayer be offered to God without ceafing, both 
for them who preach, and them who hear, the Gof- 
pel J that the former may difpenfe the word with all 
fidelity, and the latter receive it with meeknefs. Let 
lis thankfully accept thefiilutary provifions, which the 
great Lord of the houfhold has here fet before U5j 
and feed upon them to our fpi ritual nourishment. 
May we be led to try our own charafters, and be 
alarmed or comforted, as our cafe may render moft 
expedient \ May God in mercy prevent us from being 
deceived to our eternal ruin: and " jf in anything 
we be otherwife miiidecl/' than we ought to iSej may 
he ** reveal even this unto us!" Amen* 



3I.^\3?. 



2:>0 SCRIPTURE CHARACTERS. 

jvrrv'.Jion to perform the funeral folemnities of his 
uu-^rr, The rcqucrt appeared reufonable: for rdi- 
jic.t Joe* no: forbid, but rather enjoin, all due refpeft 
t* S? !>.<:« n to friends and relations. But Jcfuf, 
i '.*.v,:*i: '-2 f^^ be a mere pretence, or at leaft a mark 
cf . ,'::\c :t:'.u*:lancy to engage in the work of God, 
w^ c^ :v;jh: have been augmented by an interview 
wT'i '""> focxer conne<^lion^, demanded an immediate 
cx^T-^iVirvi" ^u:h the 'call. He replied, ^ Let the 
*cis! > j:y their dead, but go thou, and preach the 
i :*^vorti i I God." As if he had faid, *^ Sooner, let 
ji"v\*iice be ncglecied, than that of the facred mini- 
tt:^« CO which thou art appointed. Leave it, there- 
^\•e, to thole, who being dead to God are unfit for 
h:> ier\ice, to bury their deceafed kindred: but dehiv 
iu*t thou, through any carnal regards, to enter upoo 
4sid profecute thy important funfltion/* 

An example of like fort occurred, perhaps on ano- 
ihcr ivcafion. A third perfon profeffed a refolution 
tK> become a follower of Jcfus, And what prevented 
^m ? He had certain affairs to fettle, or friends to 
tftksi' leave of, if not to confult. 

l^hiN migiit fccm to us expedient and proper. But 
^llCfc vas a fvcret unfoundnefs, a wrong attachment 
1^ woildly conne£lioiX5, a wavering mind, a defire to 
Main the things, which had been renounced, as in 
^ ^iiii^f Lot's wife. Our Lord, therefore, dete^- 
^ k» hypocrify, replied, " No man, having put 
l^^nJ to the plough and looking back, is fit for the 
wjmpf\Mfc of God." 

"15^l»t fimilar inftances prefent themfeJves, under 
1^-^ ^wn obfcrvation ? Do not many « halt between 
l[^ Cfu«^"*^" ^^ " ^""^ *^ ^^^ Lord, not with 
Sl^-a Vfch<>l«? I^^*^"^^ »^"^feignedly?^* Their fupreme af- 
«C*W«* ^''^ *^' ^refent objefts; and therefore, 

JlV^ with mfible words they declare their 

^^^]|^|l^^y 'Xiity, they will comply with 



JESUS CHRIST. 267 

ts dictates no farther, than their convenierxe will 
>ermit. 

Various cxcufcs arc urged. It is faid, " We have 

;oo mwch bufincfs of another kind^ ti>givc that itten- 

aon to religion^ which is required." Or, ** Our 

ronne^ions are unfavourable to our wifhfs, ir^a vc 

:annot detach ourfelves from them." B'jt -.rill th-ii 

pretexts bear a ferious cxaminaticn? Or wiil on; ce- 

iiberately maintain, that the care of the foul sac the 

fervice of Chrift may be fafely neglected, till ci try 

worldly obftni<3ion be removed? If you arc arw-> 

ing to contend with difficulties, the Saviour wflj csf. 

>wn you, and treat you as avowed o-^jpofc*. 

- '* But we intend, iftcr a time, to b? r* s tV-iif-J 

lifciples. When this or the other Ichcmr ii i'.io:-^ 

»]ifhed, we are refolved to trifle no loretr, DJt f» 

»bey his injunftions with the uimoft ardour arc « -ri^ 

»ut referve.V Ah! Sirs, will he a-fmit ct :';.cii-5 

nfwer to the folemn call of his Gcfp^i ' Kc rtr. ..-r. 

our fubmiffion now ; and for you to ta!ic oc * *t.d -#^- 

compliance, only on a future day, i> to t'^Sir^ v.«Jt 

>u prefer the world to him. Yoy co :?: fi'X -^.-z'*^ 

re, rejeft him, while you p'ead for a c^L^. H* 

lows the ground of your excufci; ar.^ rtvi^r-r^vir, 

detefts the double mind, whatever ByaLjj^, c.> 

ifes it may afiume. 

When Jefus had taken (hip, and wa* T i?i'.«y --x. 
deep water, a fevere ftorm arof:, and tr^c c*K;;- 
5 were diftrefled by the apprenenhoT of iT:.-itd^a* 
rudion : for the veild Teemed on the vfrry fx^.fit 
Inking. But where was tonr brio^ei .Mafy^ ' 
aried out with the labours of l*)c prctcc;:,v c* y^ 
ad fallen afleep. What: could he be i/jK/rarrt t/r 
-dlefe of the danger of his faithful af**::/;*//.^? 
but he defigned to try the ftren^th of taeir t^ ?*-- 
:e in him, and to (hew th'irir itcuhty t 
ftion. They awoke him, whiic thf* 
and anguiflj, " Lord, lave u%, \%c pti 
N 2 



■a68 SCRIPTURE CHARACTERS. 

Uranffc, how inconfiftent was this! Will not the 
wcakcft believer allow, that it were impoffible t9 
perifb, with-Jefus in the (hip? But imminent perils 
will Ibmetimes render even advanced Chriftians 
ilrmigcly forgetful of their own principles, and prove 
them dcfei5live in faith, as indeed they are in every 
grace. The fears, perplexities, and defpondency, 
which fome of them difcover in fuch fkuations, fuffi- 
ciently evince it. 

Jefus reproved them fharply for their unbelief; 
ond then, to encourage their unreferved reliance upon 
him in every future difficulty, and to demonfirate that 
all nature was at his command, he arofe with a pe- 
culiar majefty, and fpake the authoritative word: the 
furious wind's inftanily ceafed to blow, and the tur- 
liulent fca was calm. Such a grand difplay of his 
4livine power aftoniflied them: ^^ the men mar- 
^'elled." They ought, indeed, to have recoUetSed, 
that he was the God of the whole creation ; and 
this very miracle might have led them to that con- 
clufion. " O Lord God of hofts, who is a ftrong 
Lord, like unto thee? Thou ruJeft the raging of the 
fca: when the waves thereof arife, thou flilleft 
Acm *." But fo much darknefs yet remained in 
^ir minds, that they had no clear or confiftent views 
4)f « the great myftery of godlinefs," and perhaps 
fome of them might then confidcr him as no more 
than a human being. 

The diftreffed fituation of the difciples is an apt 
emblem of the Church, and of many private Chrif- 
tians, in perilous circumftances. It is one principal 
part of the Redeemer's plan toexercife and prove our 
tilth 5 and therefore be conducts us through various 
trials. '"^ affords us his gracious prefence, and, 
^,w » over the tempeftuous fea of life, in 

^ ids perifli, we ought to be Iktisfied, that 

• PfaL lx&xiK« 8> 9« 



JESUS CHEI5T, 26j 

« is in the veflel with us. If we are hi? ?e^'^ -*? 
nuft be fecure; becaufe our Uletr is ia hiii. Lrt js 
lot prefumptuoufly impeach his wifiocn, fiiii-j-.-yr.'s 
ir love, when- he fuflFcrs the lev^reft :k>r.-n to ij-.;t, 
hough he (hould even tlien feem rc^ardieis ot o:ir •:&.-- 
^r. Our bufy fears may fuggei^, thii v: Cx*.. I'-rt-r 
le loft, and we may be aJmoft ovcrwiitlTK-i wr.i per- 
^exi ty and defpsur. His deiign is that we ihoJ. 3 ihr ^ 
m entire and cheerful dependence upon his; bJi w^ 
bon betray our unbelief, and trtat hiaa, as t^ Lk:^ 
Jes did. If, then, we can trait h:ni n3 locrer. tr^i.'i 
vhile the calm continues, " where is o-jritlc:'' Or, 
' why are we fo fearful :" Let us be aihazacd of osr 
bubtfiil and fufpicious temper towards him; 2:xi, 
idoring the power and grace of thb mig&ty Gc0i zsi 
>aviour, let us learn, with unihaken conSdeacCy ta 
epofe ourfelves and our concerns in h«s hands. 

The ftorm being app^ed, thfv arrived in feft^T 
It the country of the Gadarene^, oppoire t > f jil>^ : 
ind immediately an occalxon was ofercd :o? r-^e txr^^ 
>ition of his divine charackr, wh;ca cxclt?-i z*r»fJi 
ittention *. There met hiro two peri:«is p-xirMd 
with devils, in a ftate of the utinoil Ciintu-^* and 
Eury, driven out from htdttjj and incapable k4 br:3g 

Sverned or reftrained f. AlanT circumbuict^ :a 
iS cafe are not to be accounted for, on any od»?r 
Kippofition than that of a real demoniacal irAdtact^ 
We here peicetve, indeed, an awful r eprcfe niadon of 
llie wretchednefs^ in which we ibooM be imrdred, 
if fubjeded to die malice of infernal fpirkfc A con* 
fidenable number (for their name was Legion) hvl 
^•ntered into thefe unhappy men,, and reduced coem 
iothe moft miferaUe corKlition. WhM our Lord 
:beheld the pitiable objeds^ he commanded the d^* 

" « Mat. vui. 289 aec. is. i. Umk ▼. ]<*-Xf. Vvke ftfi#.S<«-4«* 
•|- As St. Mark and St. Lake iBent:O0 only cac per^^ it ^'- 
'eem that one was more fierce, an4 tfierd'^rc m'y» m «b|i 
tOticr> than the other. 

N3 



;0 fCllPTCRE CBARACTERS, 

fK>ns to quit rhcJr hoM, This ihey were unwilling 
o tio; and yet th^y wrerc coiiB:rained toackiiowlcdgt 
Ehii (iiperior power of Jcfus^as '^ the Son of the md! 
hii^h Goii,' and were t«nlfied at his peefence^ a5 
crimnaJs before their judge. Being perfectly aware 
ff thai extTcmtty of CorinenV whieb will fiiortlybe 
executed upon them by Ckrift himfe}^^ they reourfkd 
ihat their final punifiiiiient might not be inSkte.i be- 
fore the time* They entreated him alfo, for the pre* 
tent, not to difmjfs them entirely from that countrj^ 
aibf, probabdv with a mifchievous and deftructivc in- 
tt-^niion, defircd permitlion to enter into a numerous 
^erJ of I wine in the neighbourhood- Pcrm'ffioo, 
acctirdiDgly, was granted, not to gratiiy but confound 
their malice ; and immediately the whole herd, to the 
amount of two thouCiadv ruflied into the deep wdi 
\ iciencc and periftied in the waters. 

This was a remarkable tranf^ciioM. It has been 
tr^rited with impious ridicule; but it ought to beob- 
fervedj as a fufficicnt anfwer to obje<!:1ionf, that, b? 
thn very occurrence, Jcfus has dcmonftrate^i fJ^* 
lejiity of poiFeffions, the malevolence of inferd 
ritK 9^^ their entire fubiec^ion to him: §1 




JESUS CHRIST. 271 

The report of this event caufcd a general confter- 
nation among the inhabitants. Thsy flocked in 
great multitudes to fee the Perfon, who had wrought 
fo ftupendous a miracle ; and, as if (truck with a fenfe 
of their guilt, and afraid of his prefcnce, left he fhould 
bring fome dcferved judgments upon them, they una « 
nimoufiy requefted him to ^^ depart out of their 
coafts." Little did they underftand, what they aikcd. 
Shall (inners petition, that the Lord of life and glory 
would leave tiiem to themfelves? How dreadful mutt 
be the confequence! Better be dcftitute of all, both 
friends and fubftance, than be deferted by the Savi- 
our. Yet fuch is the folly and ftupidity of men; 
they are unwilling to abandon their fenfual pleafures 
and worhdly advantages, or to be diilurbed in their 
old pradtices, however unjuftifiable; and^ therefore, 
they put from them the minifters and the Gofpel of 
Chrift, madly fuppofmg they (hall be happier without 
them. They fay unto God, " Depart from us; for 
we defire not the knowledge of thy ways *.*' 

How different is the difpofition of thofe, who have 
a true fpiritual difcemment! They defire nothing ib 
much as the prefence of Chrifl', ana communion with 
him. Their language is, ^ When wilt thou com€ 
unto me? O make thine abode with me, and let mt 
remain under thy ibadow!" The perfons, who had 
been delivered from Satan's influence, were inftantly 
reftored to . reaibn and comfort j and they were ob- 
fcrvcd to be " fitting at the feet of Jef«is,'' impreflfed, 
no doubt, with unfpeakablie delight, admiration, and 
gratitude, for the grace beftowed upon them. They 
wiihed to accompany him upon bis departure:, and fo- 
licked his permiffion, ^ that they might be with him." 
But he intended them to be the inuruments of ufe- 
fulnefs among the people, who were fo deeply im- 
■letliHl in igiiorance and fin. Though he himielf de-^ 

• Job xxi. 14W 



272 SCRIPTURE CHARACTERS. 

felted the country, he determined to leave thefe his 
choi'en witnefTes there, and therefore fent them to 
publith throughout their neighbourhood^ *^ what great 
things the Lord had done tor them,*' 

Wc alfo^ confidcring ourfcKes alone, may wifh to 
be conftantly fitting at the feet of Jefus, under the 
ini^ns^om of his mouth, and the light of his coun* 
tcnancc* But^ for the prefenr, he has affigned us 
other work, to which we muft attend. We muft 
bear our tcftimony tor him, in the midll of a dark 
worH, " holding forth the word of life," tf not by 
public preaching, yet by our private convcrfaDon^ 
and fticw in our refpc^ive places, '* what grtit 
things he has done (or us.'" Where are thofe, theuj 
who have fucb an evidence to give ? What have you 
K^ceived at hts hands? He yet diflributes his gifts, anJ 
\i'orks deliverance for men- Have you expericncd 
hiS power to tkve? Arc you the monuments of his 
grace f Then commend him to athers, atid acquaint 
}our hufband, wt^e, parents, or children, what he cut 
sccomplilh for them* 

Upon his cmfling the lake again, and returning to 
Galilee, multitudes aw^ ted his arrival, and wetcom^ 




JESUS CHRIST. 275 

of profound veneration for his chara£ler, moft ear* 
neftly entreated his^ gracious interpofition. Our 
Lord acceded to his nequefl-, and followed him wich«» 
out delavy accompanied by immenfe crowds^ who 
were defirous to witnefs the event.^ 

A circumftance occurred by the way^ which de* 
fbrves our notice. A poor difeafed woman, who had 
fiiftered exceedingly by a bloody flux for twelve years, 
and bad fpent her whole fubfbnce upon phyflcians 
without obtaining relief, heard of the extraordinary 
works of Jefus, and felt a ftrong perfuafion in her 
mind, that he had power to heal her. Yet afraid, or 
aihamed, to defcribe her fituation, flie came behind 
him, and touched the border of his garment, in a bc^ 
lieving expedtation of a cure. The cure was in- 
flantly performed ^ and fuch was the change produced 
within her, as to convince her of its efficacy. This 
was entirely concealed from the obiervation of the 
people; but Jefus, who was privy to the whole, 
would have them acquainted with it from her own 
mouth. At firft, through, the tremor of her fpirits^ 
and an apprehenfion of being reproved for prefump- 
tion, (he was unwilling to appear; but, finding it in 
Tain to hide herfelf from him, fhe came forward, 
;ind, with many tears, declared the miracle in pi.jlic^ 
Thus he waspleafed to manifeft his own fupcrnatural 
influence, and her humble dependence; and for the 
encouragemen^t, not of her alone, but of others, he 
fai J, " Daughter, be of good coaifort, thy faith hath 
made thee whole: go in peace." 

Here was an inlVance of much weakncfs,. mixed 
with real belief; and hereby we are taught, that Jefus 
has compaffioiv on our infirmities, and defpifes not 
" the day of fmall things/' Come unto him^ you^ 
who have many fears. Come, however hopelefs your 
cafe may fecm. Like this poor womai>, you may 
have fought relief in vain, for a long feafon : or rather, 
like her, you may grow worfe and worfc* Ttvc r^^- 

N 5 ^cv\ 



174- 5CRXPTURE CHARACTERS. 

ion is, your application has hitherto been to ^^ ph/* 
iicians of no value.!' But, turning from all others 
to Jelus Chrift, reach forth your hand, though it be 
with much trembling, and deGre in faith ^^ to touch 
bim i" and immediately '^ virtue will go out of bioif'* 
far die perfcfting of your recovery. 

Before the ruler of the fynagogue bad reached bit. 
own habitation, a fre(b trial arofe, enough to (hake 
bis confidence. A meflenger informed him, that his 
daughter was actually dead, and therefore that i^ was 
needlefs for Jcfus to proceed any further. Still how- 
ever the Saviour, who attended him« encouraged biin 
to believe, and expedi her reftoration. They came 
at length) to the houfe, where great lamentations 
were made for the beloved child ; and fo unqueftion- 
able were the marks of her diflfolution,. that the inti- 
mation of her revival was derided. But Jefus> to 
whom '' belong the iflues from death," with a pecu- 
liar difplay of majefty, called her forth again to life 
and vigour. The event, fo confefltdly miraculous, 
filled all thofe, who had obferved it, with unfpeakaWe 
aftonifbment; but, to avoid oftentation, or for reafons 
of prudence, he requefted them not to divulge it. 

The little narrative conveys much indruiSion to 
■fc We perceive, how uncertain are all human com- 
forts, and are taught to look for painful trials, in our 
nili^S *s well as in our own perfons. In fuch 
cumftances, may we imitate the condud of Jainis, 
i »pp'y ^^ J^^"* fo^ relief! Yet, while we are 
iting f^^. ^^^ *^^'P> *^ *5 poffible, that, for the fur- 
0X<^'^ ^f ^^^ faith, increafing troubles may 
' upon us. ^ Then, in an efpecial manner, wc 
**^ jlirf ' ' •Ueve; nor is any deliverance too 
f <t rrt id from that Jefus, " who quicken- 

* gnmtP 

ntiyf thence, two blind men followed 

J I importunate cries for relief: 

I* id^ have mercy on us.'' Nor 



I 

i 



JKSUJ CHI^IST. iff, 

#as their petition vain. They were irifi-ami}^ re* 

ftored to fight; and, though charged with fecrefr, 
probably from emotions of the warm eft gratitude they 
j^ubUfhed abroad the Jci^dnefs of their Benefaiflor, 

Immediately aftei^ard, a dumb peHbn under a dc- 
anoniacal poffcffion was brought to him, and received 
a perfect cure at bis hands. Well might the people^ 
overwhelmed with ailoniQiment, confefsj " It was 
Dever fa feen in Ifrae!/' What, then, prevented him 
from being unlverially acknowledged in his proper 
chara*5ler, as the promifed Rcdeem**r? The Pharf* 
fees exerted their influence agalnft him, and, thoug^i. 
they difputed not the fai5ts> bbrphemoufly afcribed 

^^hem to the agency of Satan, I'heir malicious cavils 
had been folly refuted before^ jjnd yet they continued 
to urge the fame abfurd charges.' Juft fo, in the 
prefent day> the weak and profane objjedtions of infi- 
dels, which have been repeatedly anlweredj arc pro- ^ 
duced afreOi, and with as much petulance and acri-* 
mony as ever. But fhall not we conclude, from the 
ftypendous miracles of Jefos^ that he is " mighty t* 
fave?*' And, flnce his power and grace have fuiTered 
no diminution,, may we not encourage the children 
of affliiSion, in all their various diftrefles, to com 
mend their cafes to him, and expedl feafonable andi 
cfFedual relief from him ? 

After the above-mentioned^occurrences, Jef j^ re- 
turned to Nazareth, the place of his education *. 
The inhabitants of this city had bafely rejected hi tn 
already^, and even attempted to deftroy him ; yet he 
paid them another vifit, and again delivered his fo- 
kmn inftfuftions to them in their Tyxiagogue on the 
ftbbath day. Many of them felt a powerful impref^ 
fion from his preaching. They were ailonifhed at 
bis words : but no good effc£l enfued ; for they toolc 
^ence- V arious objeftions were raifed^ chiefly fronn 

* Miit..sii« 5f> Sec. w» 35> acc« Maik^; i«J^% 



176 ECRIPTUB'^ CHAEACTERS- I 

his mean extra^ton, the poverty of his relatloiH, mi 
the low trade, to which he was brought up. They 
looked foi a Me^iah of high original, in\re(lcd with 
ivorldly honour, pomp, and dominion ; and theydc'^ 
term 1 1 led never to receive the man in that exaltd 
chara<SW> whom they knew to be deilitute of all i^ch 
re c om me nd at i otis , 

Oppofition of a fimilar nature Is mad^ among our- 
iclves. The grand doclrijies of the CJofpel are often 
treated with fcorn) hecaufe tbey axe not acceptable to 
" many wife men after the fle(h^ the mighty, or the 
noble:" and the truth of Chrift is denied, without 
examination, becaufe fomt of its warmeft advocates 
pofTefs no eminence of rank or abilities. Prejudices 
of this kind, though extremely abfurd, frequently ope- 
rate moft effectually, and prove deitrudiive, O be- 
ware ! while you are giving way to captious difputa- 
tion, Jefus may withdraw. He left Nazareth, and, 
probably, never more returned. He wrought fome 
miracles among them, and they had credible infor- 
mation of what he had performed in other places: 
but ^' he did not many mighty works there ; nay, he 
COULD NOTj becaufe of their unbelief/* How faial 




JESUS CHltlST* ^77 

on whom he looked with the moft compaffionate re- 
gard. ** They fainted,*' prrobably with bodily fa- 
tigue ; but their fpiritual fiate was truly deplorable, 
^nd, on that account efpecially, he felt the tendereft 
pity for them. ^^ They were fcattered abroad, as 
ilieep having no fhepherd." Their pretended guides 
were fuch, as knew not how to dired them, and cared 
not for their iafety. Thei^fore they wandered in the 
paths' of ignorance and iin, which would infallibly 
lead them to deftrudion. Alas ! what could be done 
for them ? They difcovered an earneft defire to be 
infi:ru£ted in the word of life ; but there were few to 
teach them. He exhorted his difciples, then, to 
offer up fervent prayer, that God would " give.them 
p^ftors according to his own heart." Their ferious 
attendance upon his miniftry, in fuch large numbers, 
was^e the promiiing appearances of the fields, which 
denoted a plentiful barveft ; but labourers were want- 
ed, to r^p and gather in the valuable produce. And 
to whom fhould application be made, but to the great 
Proprietor, who muft be concerned for the event ? 
Petitions, therefore, fhould be addrefTed to him, to 
fupply the deficiency, that, by a fuitable provifion of 
diligent and faithful men, the rich fruit may be fe- 
cured for himfelf, and precious fouls no longer ^^ de* 
ftroyed for lack of knowledge." 

Such a tender regard for the fpiritual and everlafl-^ . 
ing happinefs of the human race was a diftinguifhing 
feature in the charader of Jefus. This, and this 
alone, is true benevolence. Where are thofe, who 
feel the fame generous principle, the fame ardent 
defire to promote the falvation of finners ? You, then, 
will rejoice to fee the multitudes of poor, ignorant 
perfons, who flock to hear the Gofpel preached with 
plainnefs and fidelity. Yet you will lament, that fo 
few, even of thofe whofe office demands it of them, 
labour with affiduity to fave immortal creatures from 
deftru^rat Much of the barveft fe^uk*^ V\Vl^\h \^\^^ 



17^ SCRIPTUltE CHAKACmt^. 

loft, for want of proper afliftance to colIe£l it. O 
what fervent pra/er fliould you prcfent to God on this 
account! Pray, that He himfelf would fend forth his 
fervants, endued with all fuitable abilities to do bis 
work. He muft ordain them to their high funftion; 
and He alone can affift and profper them in it» Thou- 
sands, alasf among us, are " fcattered abroad, as 
fheep having no (hepherd." If fuch beyour wretched 
cafe, be thankful that there are any, who are "moved 
with compaffion on you/* and who " watch for your 
fouls." They defirc to recover you- from your wan- 
dering ftate, to bring you back to the fold of Chrift, 
and to 1 nd you into his " green paftures," where 
you will fijid fafcty and refrefbment. Be willing to 
fc.lluw their directions; and^ whatever difficulties the? 
mky fuller from other quarters^ let them meet with, 
no oppofition from you, fince it is your falvation for 
which they labour inceflantly. You have been ** as 
fhecp going aftray;*' O " return unto the Shepherd 
and fiSiop of your fouls ♦ !" 

* iPct, ii*25^. 




JESUS CHRIST. 



S £ C T» S9« 

yefui fent forth his twelve Apojlles^ with mraeubut 
powers^ and gave them afolemn charge^ for their dh* 
region and encouragement- • 

One principal puypofe of .our Lord's mJniftiy was^ 
to propagate divine truth^ and, in particubr, to de- 
clare and exjdain the appointed way of accefs unto 
God* But, as hrs public life was fo '(hort, and his 
labours met with fo many obftruAtons^ it became 
expedient to feleft fomc faithful men, furnifhed with, 
proper inftru6lions, to aifift him in the work. He 
had already feparated twelve peribns out of his con- 
ftant attendants, who were to obferve his directions, 
and to be employed as chief officers in his Church*. 
He had gradually prepared and fitted them for the 
apoftolic fun<aion : but hitherto they had afted only 
tinder his immediate notice; and now, for the iirft 
time, he proceeded to fend them out upon a circuit 
by themfelvcs *. 

" No man taketh this honour unto himfelf, but he 
that is called of God t«" The chofen witnefles of 
Jefus did not obtrude thcmfelves upon him, but 
waited his fummons. He, the great Lord of the 
harveftyv appoints his labouret6 to their xd^&xvor 

* Mat. X. x> 4ct zi» z« Mark 6b 7—13*. Lake ix*. x«^6. 



poRSt When he had ailemhlcd them togetker, m 
order to deliver their facred comnrrflion to them, he 
endowed them with miraculous powers^ by whichja? 
unqu eft i enable credentiajs, they might recommend 
their doiStrinej and demonftrate its truth. They were 
enabled, with a word, ta caft out dcvUs, and to cure 
the moft inveterate difeafes* 

We offer no remarks, in this place, on the nati^es^ 
characters, znd connexions of the Apoftles, obferv- 
ing only in general, that we need! not enquire an]f 
other reafon tor their felettion^ than the ioverergti 
will and pleafure of tlie Lord himfelf, ** Ye have m 
chofen me^'* faid he^ " but I have chafen you */' 
Aod therefore, to the moft eminent of them the qocf- 
tion might be put, *' Who maketh thee to differ irom 
another! and what haft thou, that thou didft not K- 
ceivc+?" 

Before their departure from him, like a tender li- 
the r concerned for the welfere of his children, whom 
he is fending out into the world, forcfeeing the diflficul- 
ties, fnares^ and dangers awaiting them, he inftruiieJi 
he warned, he encouraged them, with tnuch iblem^ 
nity and affe<5lion- He dire*fted them to go in pmi^ 

•* hv *wn and rwn^" that thev mLii^Kc s(f4\rA mimial 



JESUS criRIST. 281 

able right to do what He will with his own ; and 
therefore to fend, or to withhold, his Goipel, as He 
pleafeth* 

But what was the grand obje£l of tho embafly of 
the Apoftles? Hear the inftrudions^ which they re- 
ceived from their divine Mafter : " As heralds, pro- 
claim with a loud voice» and with all the zeal and 
courage, which fuch a caufe demands^ that God is 
now vifiting his people in mercy, and about to fet up 
the promifed kingdom of the Redeemer. In attefta- 
tion of your facred commiffion, and of the trutli of 
y6ur<lo(&rine, to prove alfo that your miniftry is de- 
iigned to anfwer the moft gracious and benevolent 
purpofes, exert the miraculous powers now intrufted 
to you, as opportunity fhall be given, for the relief 
of the diftrefled, and not for your own private emo- 
lument, which you muft cheerfully renounce." 

From this part of the charge, how excellent docs 
the religion of Jefus appear ! It brings the moft re- 
viving intelligence, as it *< proclaims the acceptable 
year of the Lord." It propofes bleffings the moft 
valuable, rcprefented by thofe fupernatural cures which 
the Apoftles wrought, and difpenfed, as thofe alfo 
were, freely, " without money and without price,'* 
ivhere no recompence can be expected. Shall we not 
rejoice, that " the kingdom of heaven" is come unto 
us ? Or fliall we hefitate to receive the gracious de- 
clarations of thefe primitive heralds, who exhibited 
inconteftable evidence, that they were no other than 
ambafladors from God? We are affured, that in cre- 
diting their me/Tage we " follow not cunningly de- 
vifed fables," while we perceive, that " God bore 
them witnefs both with figns and wonders, and with 
divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghoft, accord- 
ing to his own will *." We are thankful, that their 
commiiHoni at firft fo circumfcribed, Vi9s afterwards 

• HeU U. V 



2R2 5CRIPTURE CHARACTERS. 

enlarged, and that they were commanded to " go 
into all the world, and preach the Gofpel to every 
creature*." Oiherwifc, how would the bleffing have 
been extended to us? But praifrd be God, He hath 
lent his word to the Gcnnles, and " granted to them 
ahb repentance unto life f/* 

Imagine the twelve ftanding round their Lor J, to 
ff^cetve the law at his mouth, while he proceeds m 
his addrefs, and gives them dire£tions for tbcir can- 
d u £t • A * th ey were total 1 y u n fu rn i fli ed for their in- 
tended expeditiont and without any vifiblc means of 
fuhfi Pence, it is probable, that an?iJoti5 thought 
might arifc in their mind?> about obtaining the ne- 
ceflary fuppHes, But thu* the Saviour inftruM 
them; "Of that kind of provision, which men er* 
iierally make for a journey, you will have no ned. 
Nay, yrju are forbidden to take fuch things with p3, 
as perhaps you might procure, and prucTence mkk 
fecm to require. You arc to cxpe^ your conte 
fupport from that G od, in whofe caufe you go (oji^ 
** Upon Him," therefore, ** caft all your care, k 
he careth for you;** nor dnuht that his providcucc 
will fiiflain you, though it fhould be in an extraordi- 




JESUS CHRIST. ItJj 

peace and comfort. The benediftion^ which you fo- 
lemnly pronounce, ihall reft upon thofe families^ 
which are well-afiefted to my Gofpel; but it will 
not profit fucfa^ as continue in unbelief. Your pray- 
ers, however, though ineflfedual for othecs, will net 
be loft ; for they fhall bring down the bleffing of God 
upon your own heads^ A tremendous wo (hall await 
thofe,. who obftinately Vejedl you ; and, while you de- 
part from them^ you may intimate their awful ftate, 
by (baking off the duft of your feet, and thus reprc- 
fen ting the ycry place as utterly defiled and devoted 
to deftrudion. In the grand, the decifive day of 
judgment, thofe, who have refufed to obey the word 
of my grace, fhall perifll with more aggravated ruin> 
dian even Sodom and Gomorrah, under the ven- 
geance of AlnMghty God.'* 

In this addreis we difcover fome difcriminatingf 
marks of the faithful preachers of the Gofpel in every 
age. May God raife up among ourfelves, men of 
this defcription, to teftify " the truth, as it is in Je- 
Ais!" It becomes them not to be anxious for their 
own temporal fupport, much lefs to covet worldly 
dignities or fenfual indulgences. While they carry 
with them a n>effkgc of peace and love, they (hould 
prove, by the ktndnefs of their deportment, that thejr 
wifli to promote the happinefs of all. Yet, in perfe^ 
cpnfiftence with this meckncfs, they (hould poflcfs 
fuch courage and fidelity, as "to declare all the coun- 
fcl of God," and folemnly to warn contemptdons 
iinners of impending deftru£tion. Is this allowed? 
But do you, to whom they come, confider aMb, what 

• is due to them and their do6lrine? Do you honour 
their office? Do you ferioufly regard their exhorta- 

* tions? Poffibly, a bold and unreferved declaration of 
== the truth may excite your difguft, and draw forth the 
^ hidden corruptions of your hearts: at leaft, it will 
& evince your real difpofitions. O beware! T*- " 

who long for your lalvation, muft admpvvy&i '^q 



r 



284. SCHIPTmiE CHARACTERS. 

you do not, by a fcornful rejeiSHon of them, bring 
upon yourfelves certaia and aggravated condemna- 
tion. Though they do not rank themfelves with the 
Apoftlcf, yet the Grofpelj which they preachy has loft 
nothing of its importance or obligartopj by the courfe 
of timej and the God of heaven is as much con- 
cerned now, as ever, to vindicate the honour of ir* 
Moft aiTuredly, therefore, though " the men of So- 
dom were finners before the Lord exceedingly *j'* 
yet if you refufe or '* neglect fo great fa] van on/* 
your guilt is more heinous than their's, and your 
cverbfting mifery will be far more infupportable. 

The Apoftles had nothing but violent oppofttioa 
to expect, from the wickednefs of the world, or ra* 
thefj from the corruption of human nature- Their 
gracious Mafl^er, therefore^ prepared them for it, fug* 
gelling, at the fame time, various confi derations to 
encourage their hopes, and invigorate their zeal. He 
proceededi in a moft aftefling maiinerj to the foUo wr- 
ing purpofe: 

" Though you arc going forth at my command, 
in my name, and under my protedllon, you will not 
be exempt from enemies. You are to be meek and 
inoffcnfivej but you will be furrounded by thofe, 
who, being of furious difpofitions, may endeavour to 
harafs and devour you* It may be right for you to 
ufc every precaution, which prudence may diiSate, 
for your own prefervation ; but beware of ** render- 
ing evil for evili" and learn, rather, to '* fuiier bng 
and be kind/' 

" Knowing the general deprayity of men, truft 
not yourfelvcs in their hands,, but be prepared to meet 
with bitter perfecution from them, for your attach- 
ment to me. With a fhew of >uftice, they will bring 
you to trial in their courts, and condemn you to the 
waft painful tortures, as the worft of criminals, in 



JESUS CHRIST. 185 

Ehis manner, you may have occafion to ftand before 
the great men of the earth, and you will embrace the 
opportunity, to bear witnefs of me and of my falva- 
tion, which otherwife they might not hear of. Such. 
ui atteftation will be an honour to you, and may 
prove the means of fpiritual benefit to them. Are 
jrou difcouraged by an apprehenfion, that you fhali 
not be able to fpeaic, as you ought, in your own juf- 
tification, before fuch auditors? You (hall beinfpired 
with wifdom from above; and it (hall be immedi- 
ately fuggefted to you by the Holy Gho(l, what you 
Qiould advance in vindication of yourfelves and the 
Gofpel." 

** Nor (hall your enemies be thofe at a diftance 
merely, but even your neareft relatives in life will 
rife up with furious and murderous rage againft you. 
Brethren, parents, and children wiH break through 
the ties of natural affection, while they are oppofing, 
and endeavouring to deftroy, each other from a ha- 
tred of the truth. Such a bitternefs of perfecution 
you will meet with in every place, on account of your 
cordial regard to me, that you will be held forth as 
the objedts of univerfal detefbtion. But maintain 
your integrity and your firmnefs in the faith, without 
wavering ; and, whatever you may fufFer by the way, 
the end will be very glorious indeed." 

. ** Refiftance may drive you from one city, but im- 
mediately carry your n^eflage to another. Enough 
remains to be done, not will you complete your pro- 
grefs through the various parts of Judea, till I myfelf 
appear, to eftablifh n^ine own caufe, and to deftroy 
mine enemies." 

" Are you furprifed or daggered at being called 
out to fuch painful trials ? Remember, what I, your 
Lord and Matter, have to endure, and what vile re- 
proaches are caft upon my name: and be content, 
that your treatment in the world (hould refer 
mine. Let not your adverfiuries Xsxv&^ ot dlvlc^ 



&S6 SCEIPTCRE CHARACTERa. 

you ; for the day {% at hand, when their inaU|Ri£j 
and your integrity (ball be clearly exhibited^ and all 
thefe darlc dJijiettUtions atifoJded to your view, h 
the mean litne, keep baclc iiothmg through fearof 
refer vci but faithfylly and publicly prociaim aloui 
vvrhatever I have revealed to you in fecrct Lettaeni 
condemn you to the fcvcrcfl tortures: you knowitw 
utmo ft thai their maUcious rage caninfliS* Thef' 
may deflroy the life of the body i but the foul, whici 
is the nobler part, is removed far beyond their readi; 
(o that, though the unani mated Heth be foon reduced 
to its original duft, the immortal fpirit will remain 
in perfect vigour- But, oh ! dread the thought of 
coming under the indignation of your Almighty So- 
vcrcignj whofc power extends to another worldj^nd 
who can render you completely miferable, both iii 
bcKiy and foul, and that throtighout all eternity.*' 

" Be not dirtrefTed by the apprehenfion of fucb ca- 
lamitous cventSj as may await you here. TheGoJ 
tit heaven and earth, whofe inimediate charge you afft 
cannot forget or defert you- He exercifes an uia- 
vcrfj*! providence; fo that He marks and dctermir-s 
the fituation of every creature, though ever fo fmall 




jEsas CHuisT. zij 

J Gofpei requires, Ihall be dilbwned and rrjci^rd 
ch everlafting abhorrence, for &e biJeDefs aodm&- 
ai ty of their conduS." 

" You may have expected much outward profperity 
d peace from the coming of the Alt^ah, 2Jid the 
ablifhment of his kingdom; but the leal corJe- 
ence will be direfily contrary. Though ri« tea- 
ncy of my religion be moft cxccl]*r;t, }tt, ztrv^iz^ 
e corruption of man oppofing it, all tmnntT ti cJZf 
(ion and violence will enfue. Tiie EtrctH ccc^tsTj. 
)ns between the neareft relatives wii: tLct ^.hct ; 

that none, probably, may be fo imcnf^d «gLinitk 
y faithful fervants, as thofe, who njsy dwsi] jr. r-:»e 
me family, and are conneded with tr^tna by CiC 
ofeft bonds of friendihip and of kir^orsd."' 

'* It is neceflar}', then, that you fhou'd be prepar- 
I for the moft painful feparation. If tr.?re be ar j 
le, even parent or child, wh<At favour you ci,T 
•cfer to mine, you can have no proper fer^ c/f nr,7 
orth or of my claims upon you ; nor can yxri y^> 
fs any part in my falvation. You muft be » ,.^-.5 
> facrifice your eafe, your reputation, and yo:.r Ttc^j- 
T interefts, for my fake and the Gofpel's and rea^ 
ily fubmit to all hardfliips and indigni:;t^. I, }Oir 
«eader and Commander, go before you, ar^ Vjt:t^ 
>re you fhould not hefitate to follo^r mc, through 
luch tribulation. Perhaps, a violent death may clz/e 
our fuSerings here. Be it fo. Thofe, wr.o apo- 
:atize from me may lengthen out their exiftertce 
pon earth a few days longer; but they (ha'.l be de- 
Toyed for ever : while you, who may (utA yfjur blood 
1 my caufe and fervice, (hall live ar.d reizn, b^yor.j 
le reach of perfecutors, in everlaftin^ happineOi and 
lory. *This is enough, furely, to hx your dctcr- 
lination, and infpire you with increafiog confidence 
nd zeal." 

^^ You will fuftain an important character ; nor is 
: a matter of indiSereAcei how you %tc xit^\^& 

4 



^ 



k%S SCRIPTDEB CHAKAdriRS. 

the world. I folemnlj declare, diat vAateveirliiiidiiei' 
is fhewn unto you, while you «Fe adiiur in mv mme^ 
it (hall be conndered as a mark of tdmigbea R^guiii 
to me and my Fadier; for you go fertii as Mr itpfCN 
fentatives and ambai&dors. He, wild fbdlxo^iaftf 
receive my prophets or minifters for the fiiketsfriMt ' 
Gofpel, which they preach, or even an^ hSAM-IBf^ 
ciples in private life, from a pure^ dtumetefte^ W 
fpe£t to their charaAer, fhall be abundat^ fqpaM ibr 
his pious liberality towards them: finr he mad! ^iriaU 
with them of that blifi and ^ory, to wfaidi fhey flttf 
fliortlv be admitted." ^ ' '* 

<^ I commend you, therefore, as mydieat chaifaiMj ! 
to the notice of all, who are concerned for mjmim 
.Whomever &all aiFord you the leaft attentioiiiirilN J 
frefhment by the way, adminifteritig only a Cujfit. 
cold water for your reUef, merehr becaufe yon bdwi^^l 
to me and are emplo}^ in my lervice, I jdedge mjL' 
felf to return that z& of kindnefs in an ample man- 
her. I will not forget, but public! v own, approve, and 
reward, the labours of love, which ihall be wrought 
for my name's fake." 

Such was the purport of our Lord's moft afFefHng 
addrefs to his twelve Apoftles, when he fent them 
forth to evangelize the land. Such tender and earneft 
wiflies did he exprefs for their encouragement, fup- 
portj and fuccefs in their arduous work. Having re- 
ceived their commiffion and the folemn charge, they 
proceeded, as they were direfted, on their moment- 
ous expedition. They carried with them from place 
to place the gracious overtures of reconciliation with 
God through Jefus Chrift, and called upon all, with- 
out exception, to humble themfelves before jjim un- 
der a conviclion of their guilt, and turn from their 
evil ways with fincere contrition and renovation of 
heart. Nor did Jefus himfelf ceafe from his own 
rpus exertions. He continued to bear part of 
burden, and peKevet^A \u k\s ^rogrefe, that 



JESUS CHRIST* a89 

he might diffufe the kaowkJgc of falvation alt 

While we contemplate the office and cham£ter of 
ke Apoftle??^ as lie re exhibited, we are fumiihed v,^ith 
Irong arguments for the authenticvty and f4utaijr 
sndency of die Gofpei. Such a plan coultl iiev'tr 
e the contrivance of men : ic muit be ** the uowtr of 
!od, and the wifdom of God */* ft Is alfo fo re- 
Jete with bleflings, calculated to relieve our wretch- 
inefs, that we need not heficatc to pronounce it 
** worthy of aW acceptation f/' The fubjet^t will 
like wife lead us, as we have already iiiUmat^d, to 
confider what manner of perfons ihey ought t<i be, in 
lodern times^ who are " the miniftcrs of Chrill, and 
le wards of the myfteries &f God-" The c.ifc of 
jefe primitive amiiailadors was, in many refpects, 
ruliar, .Etit all thofe, furely, to whom " the word 
bf reconclJiacion is committed,'" fhould polfefs the 
fame vie.^s and difpo fit ions, as were rec^uired m 
them. 

We may carry the apphcatfon farther, and remark^ 
that the holy and heavenly tempers, heje Inculcated, 
are indifpeofa^bly necefTary, not merely for thofe who 
preach, but for thufe who profefs, the Gofpd, Though 
you be not inverted with a public office in the Church 
of Chrift, yet, as called by his name, you fliould be 
meek, gentle, and inofFenfivc. You muft be w illing 
fo bear the moft ignominious and fcornful treatment, 
for the fakfe of your Lord and Mafter. You muft 
cheerfully fubmit to the heavieft calamities, in the 
way of duty, without diftrufting the providence of 
God; and, in every poflible fituation, avow your 
attachment to Chrift, whatever painful confequences 
you may fufFer. You never can be at liberty to deny 
him, though your moft beloved frfends, or thofe, on 
whom you depend for your fufienance, (hould require 

. * I Cor. i, 24* + i V\vCi% \% IV 

Vol. IIL Q ^^xw 






tgO SCRIPTURE CHARACTERS. 

you to do it. Let father and mother) wile and duV 
dren be dear to you, as they ought to be; but let Je»' 
fus be dearer than all. He claims^ and he defervc% 
your cordial and fupreme regard. You do i)Ot, thcfeu 
fore, underftand his excellency^ or your oUigidioBi^ 
to him, unleTs you prefer his fovour and the advance^ < 
ment of his glory to ^very worlctty pofleffion or eiw 
joyment, unleTs you can give up your neareft kia^ 
dred, your reputation, emolument, eafe, or life idfel^ 
for' his fake, whenever they come in competitioa* .\ 
Where, then, fhall we And fuch love to tbeSaii^'l 
our, fuch zeal for his name ? It is evident^ that iaaEJii 
are totally deftitute of thcfe holy principles. Aff, 
there not thofe, who are enflaved to' fenfual pleafiifaf 
and determined, as far as pk>ffible, to gratify vnstf 
inclination of their hearts? Atid to what purpoM 
fhould we inculcate upon them the neceffity of taking 
up the crofs, and following Jefus? They would tpoi 
away their ears in contempt or indignation. Yet 
we muft declare the ofFenfive truth, that ^' the luft of 
the fleft, the luft- of the eyes, and the pride of life," 
are as inconfiftcnt with real Chriftianity now, as 
they were in primitive times. " Whofoever, there- 
fore, will be a friend of the world, is the enemy of 
God *." 

Is it fufficient to affume expreffions of refpecS:, and, 
with demure appearance, upon your bended knees, to 
pretend a high regard for the Saviour, while you are 
afraid to advance one flep farther in his fervice, than 
may be agreeable to the 8;eneral maxims and cuftoms 
of the place in which you live ? Would he not account 
fuch compliments as an infulr, more odious to him, 
than an "1 oppofition ? This temporizing fpirit 

is as ^ it is iiiiful: it pleads for prudence, 

but deftrudion. You may contrive to 

avo 1, and procure applaufe and prefer- 

* James iv. 4. 



JESUS CHRfST* 291 

int among men ; but what will tbefe avail, if Jefu55 
own you? What (hame, confufion and horror will 
erwhelm yoq, when convifted, before the aflem- 
d univcrfe, of treating him with infolent contenopt ! 
May we all, therefore, be perfu-aded to follow hirr, 
erever he fliall lead, and to undergo all extremities 
his fervice ! Why fuch a regard to prefent conve- 
incesr- Why fuch a fear of our fellow-creatures, 
i a diftruft of God ? Do not thefe things argue 
ich unbelief, and betray an cirthly mind? Let us 
J above our little difficulties, and confide in that 
5d, who takes care for the very fparrows, and hath 
mbered the hairs of our heads. He will not be 
ttentive to our wants, even in this life, if we be 
:hful to him: and a glorious recompenfe is laid up 
heaven for thofe, who are willing to hazaid evtry 
ifequence, from a zealous adherence to his caufe. 
dependence on his promife, may we now fufrcn- 
• ourfelves and our all to him, and ftand with cfMi- 
^nce and joy before him, at the great day of bis 
>earing! Amea. 



o z ^^ 






292 



SCRIPTURE CHARACTERS. 



JESUS CHRIST* 



SECT. lo. 



Jtfu$y flu thi rifum rf hl$ J/m^Us^ withdrew with ihm 
—fidfhi ih^upnd hy a mrrmcU^-ntired frmik 
vmaitmid — %MMlkii m tht f^—JiUUd the ttttftji- 
taught m thi fifra/^i^e of Capirnaam — cavmi st 
ty thi Jn^h ii^^fsrfale^ by many dtfdpki. 

As wc a^ivaDce in the profecution of our Mi^^ 
and ccnitcmp!atc the wofrderful a<5ls t>f the Son of 
imn^ wc meet with addlrioni] proofe ttf his higfe<iF?- 
ni:Y, »iid Cic pcrft^ion of his charai^cr. If vtSx 
rur attentive rcfard imi ihis bright Luoiinajy, fiidi 
brims of glory wiJl break forth upon us, as will fiS, 




JESUS CHRIST. 293 

who are a6lively employed in the facred furuSions of 
religionj to fecure fome moments to themfelves, by 
retreating from their public engagements, that both 
their minds and bodies may be recruited. 

To obtain the defired privacy, he pafled over a part 
of the fea of Galilee; and great multitudes, who had 
obferved his departure, followed him with much 
cagernefs, " becaufe they faw his miracles." They 
were induced to attend him, through aftonifhment or 
curiofity ; at leaf):, we fear, by no better motive. Th« 
compaifionate Jefus, however, upon coming to the 
fhore, where they were ready to receive him, could 
not look upon them without feeling the mod tender 
concern for their ftate, remarking,, as he had done 
on a former occafion, that *' they were as flicep not 
having a Ihepherd.'' On this account, foregoing his 
intended reft, he began to rencvv his labours amongft: 
them, and went up with them to a mountain, that he 
might be heard with convenience; where he opened 
•to them the nature of his kingdom, and manifeftcd 
his po'A^er, by reftoring health and vigour to them 
that were difeafed. Blefled Jefjs ! we bcfeech thee 
ftill to look with pity " on the ignorant, and on them 
that are out of the way.'' How immenfe are their 
numbers, and how wretched is their condition ! 
Stretch out thine arm to recover them from the paths 
of error, and reveal thy glories to them. Inftruft 
them in thy truth, and take them into thy fold, as the 
(heep of thy pafture. 

At the ciofe of the day, the difciples \yould have 
-difmiffed the people, as they had no ftock of provi- 
lions for them. But Jefus, unwilling to fend them 
away without refrefhment, defired that fome food 
.anight be given them. Accordingly, at his word pre- 
parations were made, in order to furnifli them an en- 
tertainment. They were all marftialjed in ranks, 
and fet down in the open air upon the grafs. B* 
whence (hall a fuificknt quantity of ick^^\.\^^ "gt^^^a 
O o 



ag+ 



iCRIPTURE CHARACTERJ, 



f«ir fi> large a multitude i as there were prefefitfii* 
thoufand men, befidc women and children? This 
Wis Miiitfetl, a fevcr^ trial of the faith of his difciples, 
;is they coulil not raife more than five loaves and two 
fmnill fifties. Thefe, however, were brought forthj 
a;idj in the hands of Jeius, by an all-creating pvtfi 
thty were fo multi plied, as to be more than enougii 
to fati&fy ihe whole company- *' They did allati 
'dnd were filled i'' and^ when the fragments were col- 
k-dlt-^dj It was found thit furh had been the minculous 
intfcafc, that the remainder far exceeded the original 
ilo'c of provifio]}?. 

What a grandeur do we perceive m this entertam- 
nieutj furpaDins^ that which attends the moft fump- 
tsjous tables of princes! What a fervour of devotion 
appeared la the grent M after of the feaif, while lie 
looked up in piAyer for the dfvine bleffing, and tbefe- 
by taunht the ptople to expect their food from Hn- 
ve;i! WhsU' an exalted my^jcfty^ mixed wjth ibc 
t'A'eeteft condcfcenfion, dtftingaithed his behavicir! 
Was not every one, then, It ruck with admiration, 
and difpfjfed to revere and love him ? Xhey conclyiW 
without hefuation, and they concludtfd " 




JESUS CHRIST. 7gS 

wre not ftrangely perverfe and infatuated, if we ac- 
knowledge him to be the Teacher of Ifrael, the Chrift 
of God, and yet remain unconcerned about his doc- 
trine? Either fay at once. He is a bafe impoftor, 
which few will dare to affert; or elfe, bow with un- 
feigned fubmiflion to him, and pray, '' Shew me thy 
ways, O Lord, and teach me thy paths. Make 
known to me the glorious truths of thy falvation; 
and fpeak efFe£luafly to my heart, for thy fervant 
heareth." 

Or, allowing his facred character, are we afraid to 
follow him ? The miracle, we have confidered, is cal- 
culated to fix and confirm our dependence upon him, 
as able to provide for our fupport, and exercifing a 
tender care for our bodies as well as fouls. If we are 
ever fo neceffitous, we perceive with what eafe he 
can multiply our ftore. In a thoufand ways, which 
we cannot forefee, he can furnifli our tables with 
plenty. This very inftrudlion was meant to be con- 
veyed to us V and accordingly, the difciples were af- 
terwards reproved, for not remembering the extraor- 
nary occurrence to better purpofe, when they were 
^pprchenfive of wanting bread to eat *. Let us learn, 
thv^n, to ^' caft all our care upon him," believing 
that he will " feed us with food convenient for us.*' 

The aftoniflied multitude, concluding him to be 
the Mefiiah, and expelling, agreeably to their carnal 
notions, that he would fet up a temporal dominion, 
were defirous immediately to inveft him with regal 
honours. But, fo far from entertaining any ambi- 
tious defi^ns, or dlfcovering any oftentation, he took 
pains to avoid public notice and applaufe, and there- 
fore he withdrew from them. He directed his dif- 
ciples, alfo, to depart, and to crofs the lake to Beth- 
faida,*perhaps that he might prevent them from fa- 
vouring the foolilh wilhcs of the people* In tb'^ 

* Mat. xvu 9» 

6 V "^ 



296 ICRIPTURE CHARACTERS. 

rr.cin tiTi? he rirrftlf retire J to a mountain for prayrr, 
anJ (beni uic clmi p^Tt of the ni^ht in his private 
ikv<ition$. Ab! tuw unltke to him are tho^ of hii 
|)fofeflrd foUomeiSf who arc tialicitous la procure ani 
preserve the pomp and power of ^is prefent world! 
Or VI bat refcmbfance 10 the holy Jcfus do tbofe bear, 
iiho tuve no. retiih for religious folitude^i andean 
fpatc no time fj>r ^hc exalted purpoTc of ma^mt^ining 
communion wrth God,^ 

Tur difcip'ts were on the fea^ where tiiey were 
cvxrtmken by a ftonnj and toiled sibout, for caany 
Lours to^eihtr^ upon the boifterous %vaves, Theif 
litujiion was diitfciEng; the n?ght was dirt, th£ 
w^ter tempeduDuSj the wind violent and contrary; 
tiicy had fpent their ftrength^ in vain with rowing! 
dang:ers threatened them j and their dear Lord aiJ 
A 1 after was abfcnt from them, Jcfus, however, could 
not be utimmdful of them: he knew rheTrdifficulfieSi 
iind drew jiear for their h el p» He had been retirfd 
till ne*,r the morning; but then he cai:e to them 
'■'' walking upon iha (z^y* that he might convincfi 
them of their perfet^t fafety under his protetfiioti, aod 
e:. courage chem to face every ftorm in his fcrvicr^ 




JESUS CHRIST. 297 

he felt the violence ^f the ftorm, his faith failed, and 
he began to fink j fo that, if Jefus had not ftretched 
out his companionate hand to fave him, he muft have 
perilhed in the deep. 

Jefus then entered the veflel, and reftored peace 
and comfort to his difciples. Immediately, the rage 
of the wind abated, and they were brought to the 
very poinjt of land, which they aimed at. What proofs 
of power; what marks of dignity were here ! Yet 
what modefty and condefceni'ion appeared in our 
Lord's conftant deportment ! He did not difplay his 
ability in an oftentatious manner, or even for his own 
accomr)iodation. He fubmitted to travel on foot, 
with much fatigue, when he could have inftantjy 
tranfported himfelf to the mod diftant place. His 
attendants were filled with inexpreflible aftoni:liment, 
and the more fo, as they had not duly confidered the 
miracle of the preceding day. They fell down before 
him, with the ftrongeft emotions of gratitude and love, 
and with exprcffions of profound adoration, crying out, 
" Of a truth, thou art the Son of God.'' The in- 
habitants, aifo, of the n';ighbouring coalT:s no fooncr 
received int:^lligence of him, than they Hocked after 
him with great eagernefs, entreating his companion 
toward the fick; and, merely by the tcmch of his 
gi^iment, the nioft invcterrite difeafes were removed. 

Shall not Wc, likewife, be encouraged to apply to 
him, v/ho has all pow^r in his hand, and '^-ho, in fo 
many inilanccs, has proved hiinfelf ^* nnghty to fave?" 
Our faith may be tried, as thiit of his difciples was, 
and, probably, our v/eaknefs will foon be evinced. 
** Lord, help our unbelief." He is oft^n pleafed to 
fufFcr a violent ftorni to arife, and his people may 
feem, as if they were left alone upon the deep, toil- 
ing in extreme diftrcfs, ready to perifli. But he will 
gracioufly interpofe, in due feafon, to fave them. He 
will manifcft himfelf to them, appeafc the rage of the 
tcmpeft, quiet their fears, and '^ bring them unto 

O 5 llivir 



2()8 SCRIPTURE CHARACTERS. 

their defircd haven." " Oh, that men would praifc 
the Lord for his goodnefs, and for his wonderful 
works to the children of nfien * !" 

The multitude, who had been defirous that Jefus 
ftiouhi aflume the government, and from whom he 
had withdrawn, fought after him again with renewed 
ardour. They had travelled far on foot, and then 
they croffed the lake in fearch of him. At length, 
they found him in the fynagogue at Capernaum, and, 
after cxpreffing their furprife at his removal' to that 
[)hct% which they could not account for, they re- 
ceivtrd n r>''"'^.n reproof for the very lo%v and carnal 
motives, rium which they followed him. The mi- 
racii^QvJs t;itertainment, he had afforded them, had 
Tdifed ihfjir c^pctiitations of his^polleiBng a temporal 
dominion, and they werfc ftill in hopes of exalting and 
enriching themfelves by hi^ fervicc. A poor rcafc^fi 
indeed, for pretcndmg an attachment to Jefus t Yct^ 
we fcaf) a regard to fecular advantages has been tht 
ground of much of that religions T-cal, wliich has been 
itdniircd in the world. Hut it is a meari and con- 
temptible principlti. He called upon them, therefore, 
to turn tht.nr attention from the care of the pcrifli- 




JEStrS CHRKT. ^99, 

«nd infolcntly demanded his credentials, as if he had 
already exhibited none, which deferved regard. He. 
had performed various miracles in their neighbour- 
hood, of which they muft have had authentic infor- 
mation ; and their own eyes had feen unqueftionable 
proofs of his divine miiEon: and ftill they prcfumed 
to aflc, ^^^ What doft thou work ?*' Unbelief is always 
unreafonable: it cavils at the plaineft teilimonies, and 
determines never to be fadsfied. We /leed not, there- 
fore, befurprifed at the outcry for ftronger evidence,^ 
which is generally made by chofe, whom no evidence 
will conviiKe. 

It was intimated to Jefus, that his miracles were 
far inferior to thofe of Mofes, who had fully demon- 
ftrated his facrcd character and legation, by fupport- 
ing their anceftors in the wildernefs with manna fron* 
heaven. He replied, that the Lord God was thea 
difpenfmg to them bread infiniiely mpre excellent^ 
than that which Mofes had been the means of com- 
municating, and that this bread was no other than 
the very Perfon, who had descended from the higheft 
h avens, for the purpofe of giving life to a perilhing 
world. • The extraordinary and important declara- 
tion, probably, imprefled the minds of fome of hi& 
audience, and conftrained ihcm to cry out, though 
they comprehended not the full import of their own 
words, '' Lord, evermore give us this bread." There 
cannot be a more fuitable petition for ourfelves ta 
offer up: only let us underlland and feel its mean.- 
ing. ,Who is not anxious to preferve life?. What 
immenfe pains are taken to p^-ocure that fuftenance, 
which merely fupports the body ? And fhall we not 
be folicitous to gain a happy exigence beyond the 
grave? Are we told, that God has gracioufly made 
pfovifion for this. very end, in the Gofpel of his Son? 
And (hall we not, inftead of proudly and petulantly 
quarrelling with it, ferioufly enquire into the nature 
of it* and tnc method* in which the ber\^&.ttsve^N V^^ < 



JCO SCRIPTURE CHARACTERS* 

vcjrcd to US? Such a difpofition^ furcly, becomes oaf 
c harsher ami fituation, Lcr us hear, then, tbe fur- 
ther mftrucliotts of Jefus on this moft intereftiog 

fdHca, 

He declared explicitly, and without refcrvc, di»! 
He himfelf is that fpintual food, on which our c^tr- 
lafiingfalvation dependf, that by faith alone the blcf 
ing Is obtained, and that the believer, in a fmcer^ 
application to him, fliall be delivered from thofe car- 
nal defires, which are never fatjsficd, and fhall M 
h\s frnil contented and delighted in him* Sdll hccEs- 
f rve4 ihdt many fjf thoJc, \vho then faw him with 
their eyes and had the beft opportunity of exami]^ 
ing, contcmpcuouHy rcjedleJ the gracious offer- 
How 0iall this be accounted for? The true reafouii 
affigned by our Lord* In our fallen and depraved 
f^atrj furh 1*5 our natural blind r>c!% pride^ ami" love 
of the world, that we are all unwilling to accept tttf 
falvation providrd^ by fiibmitting to JeJ'us, and fixing 
our whole reliance upon hirrii Vet^ that the ^lo* 
riotis pbn of redemption may not be defeated bjotir 
folly and perverfenefs, God hath fecu red a pet^ 
fnr hinifdjf by his owrl Covenant ; and thefe, utuJcT 




JESUS CHRIST. 3OX 

vation of his people was the very end, for which he 
had left the glory of heaven, and that it was alfo the 
grand objeft of his Father's counfels. On this ground 
he inftrudled them to expert from him the comple- 
tion of their happinefs in an everlafting ftate, and 
promifed again and again, that, though their bodies 
muft go down to the duft, the grave (hnuld not detain 
them for ever, but that his arm would refcue them from 
death at the laft day. Will nofr-thefe afTurances fufHce 
us? Jefus poffefies all fulnefs of grace for the reco- 
very of them that are loil. The invitation is fent to 
all without exception; the offer is freely made to 
thofe, who fiTKcrely defire it; and all obftruitions 
arc removed, but thofe, which finners themfelves ob- 
ilinately continue to throw in the way. What more 
do you wifli for, than a favourable acceptance? Why, 
then, do you remain at a ditlance from him, (ince he 
bids you to draw nigh^ and engages to give you a 
cordial welcome? There is no decree, which can ex- 
clude you from his mercy, if only you will fubmit to 
his propofals. His hand is ftretched out to commu- 
nicate his bleffings; and his bowels yearn with com- 
panion toward every poor fupplicant, who is humbled 
at his icet. 

Jefus having fpoken in high terms of his defcent 
from heaven, and of the benefits to be derived from 
him, the Jew?, who were not acquainted with his di- 
vine extraftion, and fuppofed him to be no more than 
the fon of Jofeph, his reputed father, began to cavil 
at his expreffions. To filence their objedlioiis, and 
turn their attention to themfelves, he replied to the 
following efFeft: 

** Inttead of indulging a captious difpofition, feri- 
oufly confider your own awful circumftances, and 
implore direction and afHftance from above. For 
fuch is the natural ignorance and perverfenefs of maa 
in his fallen ftate, that he cannot be induced to feek 
ox accept falvation ia my namc> b\3X>Q^ ^^ ^ci^w^ 



3v"*2 5CRIPTVRE CHARACTERS. 

crcration of God upon his mind. Your own pro- 
phets have inftrud.d you to afk and expedl this very 
inriucnce; and cvtry one, who has obiaiiied it, will 
acknowledge my claim?, ai^d yitld me an unfeigned 
fubmiilion. In this way only my bleffings are to be 
fee I. red. Mi Hake me not, as if the Father would 
nujilfcil himfclf in a viilble manner to you: He 
fpcaks to you by him, who is come from his im- 
irediate prdV ncc ; and I, his faithful witnefs, declare 
with the mOil folemn and repeated afl'ev era t ions, that 
he, who places his whole affiance upon me, is received 
intv) the divine favour, and poflcfl'es a fure title to 
c;ern:il hjppinelt^." 

^^ I am, therefore, that bread, which alone can af- 
ford true fuftcnance to your fouls. How far fuperior 
to the manna, by which your ancellors were fup- 
ported! 'I'hat was the means of preferving their ex- 
igence in this world, only for a flioi t feafon : whereas 
the fpiritual food, which I propofe, will efFedually 
fecurc you from perifliing for ever. I niyfclf am th?.t 
food, of which the manna was a faint and imperfect 
rcprefcntation : 1 came down from the higiielt -hea- 
vens to communicate evcrlalHag life to all thole, 
jVjj-ouilht.ut the whole world, who by faith ilull pr.r- 
|,^-jpate the facred provifion. For this very purpol'e, 
1 j,j..e afiumed a human body, which I fhall fhortly 
-i". r up ^s an expiatory facrlfice, to relcuc finners 
V *' Jcrferved ruin, and procure for them the poffef- 

tiV' •■ ^j irations foftrong, fo new, and myfterious, ex- 

JV*' 'jious fentiments in the minds of the Jews, 

j^^J ^ "".fcfore, began to difpute with each other con- 

*/* (t^^^\\cn* ally as they could not compre- 

■^;i'"*'" ^^1 ^ them were difpofed to deride 

/^ ^^ , er abfurd. But he proceeded 



' L ^/^ if Bxprels and vehement afler- 

/^•V/'-^ tions, 



.jMiw cmtnT; joj 

'tioiH^iiiritboift deigning to anfwer every cavil, urtuch* 
a^ prtHid objedor might bring. 

' ^* Hoover you' may fcorn the warning, I folemnly 
affiire yov, that you are totally deftitute bf real, fpt^- 
rkual life, unleft you be quickened by believing on the 
Son of man^ as fufiering and dyin? for you *. He 
furfeaders up his. body to the' moft violent tortures, 
and coflieiits to flied his blood ; 9ind the benefits of thi^ 
aAoDoment will be communicated to you through fiiitlu 
>Aa lAie common food of your bodies mud be receiv-- 
ed| that it may afford them the neceiTary fuftenance> 
fi» miift you feaft ufXMi the facrifice, which my death 
will make, in order to derive from it true noupifli* 
ment and vigour to your fpuls. The man, who thus 
onintains an habitual regard to me, as his grand 
aad fole fupport. *^ who eateth my fle(h and drinketh 
ay- blood," pofleflbs the* principle of immortal life 
vMttn bim, and I engage to raife his very duft from 
the gr^ve in a glorifi<^ ftate. He is furnilhed with 
an entertainment more delightful, than the moft 

* It would be domg the utmoft violence to language to explain our 
Lord's expreflions in any other feme, than as referring to his in- 
tended facrifice of hinnfelf. If he be no more than a Teacher cf 
virtue, and it" he fa\e us only by his good inftru(5ions, with what 
propriety of fpeech could he talk, of giving his flelh to eat, and his 
blood to drink? This fiizure, doubtlcfs, mult be underftood as repre- 
iienting his death, and cur faJvatlorj as rcfulting from it, agreeably to 
thofe other declarations of the Scriptures, which afcribe our redemp • 
tion to his blood. Allowing the reference to his atonement, the 
whole appears confident, and demands our moft ferious regard; but 
otherwife, it mud be thought flrange and^lncongruous. 

The Lord's fupper was not, at this time, inilituted; and thereforc,e 
though many of the cxprefllons may be properly accommodated to 
that facrament, which is an emblematical reprefentation of the flejh 
and blood of Chrift given to us as our fpiritual food and fcftenance, 
yet we are not warranted in drawing any conclufions from the pafTage 
before us, with refpeft to the efficacy of that ordinance. Thofe, who 
coflnmunicate by faiih, do indeed eat the Aeih and dr nk the blood of 
Chr'iit, and they are viuUy united to him. But the bare participa* 
tion of the outward elements proves not a believing application to the 
IJaTioiir, nor does it n^ceiTarily implant or incrcafe the divine principle 
of life in the fouL 

fumptuouJ 



304 SCltlPTtmK' CHAEAOtlftf.' 

fumptuous provifions can be to^die teafet. fkjti- 
joined to me by a myRerious arid infejiacaUe 1101099; 
even refembling that which fiibfifts between the ettr- 
nal Father and his incarnate Son, by virtue of whiol^ 
his foul fhall be fuftained and tnvijeonte^ tfareM^Jliit 
conftant communications of the opirit; So br, dMs' - 
does the heavenly numna furpafit in its c«Ksdlcntiih: 
k£ks^ that miraculous food, which . waa gnutnl^lf 
your progenitors in the wildemefs. That idmrtpl. 
a benefit, comparatively mean in its nature^ aiiiraiQit< 
in its continuance; but this, which is how cxhibifn^' « 
will fecure life and happioels of the moft exalted liia^f j 
and durable as eternity." - ' . : 

Such was the purport of our Lord's ^reft tQdifc 
Jews, and it is equally'interefting to U8» aa it.jrw$ C9< 
them. Have we ferioufly confidered it^ atid die io^: i 
porunt do^ines involved in it I What impreSoiM|; ! 
then, are produced in our minds? Are we, like the%: 
difpofed to murmur, becaufe Jefus claims (uch an exn 
alted dignity? Or, are we inclined to- enter intocu*: 
rious fpeculations, and difpute againft the plain afler- ■ 
tions of" the Bible, becaufe they contain fome things, 
which baffle our comprehenfion! How prefumptuous 
is fuch a fpirit! Rather, let us confider our blindnefe 
and extreme depravity, and fufpeft our own conclu* 
fions. Let us fervently implore thofe divine influ- 
ence , which God hath promifed, and which the 
wifcft and bed of men continually need. Our un- 
derflandings mud be illuminated, truly to difcern the 
appointed method of falvation in the Gofpel ; our car- 
prejudices and afFedions muft be fubdued, that, 
objedlions againft it may be efFedually filenced; 
our wills muft be brought under a holy bias, that 
/**' *" illy comply with it, 

libited as the heavenly manna, which 

•ifli our fouls to life eternal: Have wc 

m in this charader? He condcfcendcd 

urtaker of fielh and blood,'' that dy-. 

log 



JESUS CHRIST. 305 

ing in our nature he might expiate our guilt: Have 
we fixed our regard upon him, as our atoning facri- 
fice? It is folemnly declared, that, without a real par- 
ticipation of Chrift by faith, we mud remain in a 
ftate of fpiritual death: Have we been fufficiently 
aware of the abfolute neceflity of believing ? It is not 
enough, that we give a cold afTent to this fa£l, that 
Jefus bath died for us ; but we muft place our whole 
reliance upon him, and expeft pardon, peace, and 
cverlafting glory, as obtained for us by his blood: 
Do we conflantly maintain fuch a temper of mind 
towards him? Very blefled are the effedls of this 
humble and cordial application to the Saviour: Can 
we teftify of the reality and excellency of them? Do 
wc daily feed on the facred fuftenance, here provided 
for us, and find the moft exquifite delight from it? 
Are we fenfible of any' communion between Jefus 
and our own fouls? And do we derive from him, re- 
frefhment when we are weary, ftrength when we 
feint, and comfort when we are. oppreffed with 
troubles? If fuch be our acquaintance with him, we 
may rejoice in the confidence, that he will bring us 
forth, at the general refurrc^lion, with triumph and 
exceeding joy, and grant us a fure abode in his own 
glorious prefence for evermore. ^ 

Such a free declaration of the myfterics of faith, 
and efpeci ally fuch a particular application of them to 
the confciences of the hearers, will generally excite 
offence; nor fhould the miniflers of Chrift be fur- 
prifed at that effect, when they obferve the reception, 
which their Mailer met with. A^Iany, even of his 
piorcfred friends and difciples, began to cavil at his 
doct.'ine as har/h and unintelligible. He perceived 
their inward difafFcdtion, and Veplied to the very ob- 
jections, which they were afraid to utter. He inti- 
mated, that he fhould foon return to heaven, from 
whence he had come down, and that his afcenfion, 
which might puzzle them as much as what he had 

affcrted, 



i^S SCRIPT !TRE CBAIIACTERS. 

aflertctl, wouJJ prove the juftkre of his claims. To 
prevent their abufe* of the fubjeci, he guarded ttietn 
againit a literal acceptarion af -hr^^ words, and direftd 
them tfj the fpirrtual ftnle^ in which alone they could 
be unicrftood with profit. But he remarked, that, 
3s he had been awaie of their lecrct titibeiief from the 
very firft, he had iofifted on divine irtfluenccSj as ne~ 
ceflUry to remove the oppoJition of their hearts againi 
him. 

From that tunc, m^nj, who bad long folWeJ 
him, perceiving, probably^ that their hypocriiy wai 
detected) totally withdrew from him and returned no 
more. Nay, fuch was tKe defer tion, that it might 
leem as if the very twelve vs^ere ftaggered, and readf 
to depart. Jefus^ therefore, called upon them to de- 
clare expHci^iv, whether they woulJ abide ^vith him, 
or no; that fo their fervice might not appear lobt 
con ft rained J but quite voluntary* Xhe mort dilbnt 
propofal, however, of apoftafizing frooi the Saviour^ 
wiH ever ft; ike the fincere believer with hofrof- 
Accordingly, Peter flood forth, as thfe mouth of the 
Apofllcs, maii)tair)ing their immovable attachment to 
him, and ftedfafl dt^pcndence upon him for eternal 




JESUS CHRIST. 307 

will occur, which will manifeft their infincerity. 
Very frequently, they are offended by the plain deal- 
ing of their minifters; and it is no wonder, that they 
depart from thofe, who fufpedt them of hyprocrify. 
How awful is their cafe ! " It had been better for 
them not to have known the wayof righteoufnefs *." 
May the example awaken the attention of all, who* 
bear the Chriftian name ! Happy thofe, who are pre- 
ferved unfliaken, in the midft of numerous apoftates. 
We afk, then, of what fort is your attachment to 
Jefus? " Will ye alfo go awayr" Are you moved 
from your hope, " who feemed to be pillars?" You 
muft, indeed, be left to your own choice: but we en- 
treat you to form that chpice deliberately, with a full 
.view of all the confequences before you. If you de- 
part from Chrift, to whom can you betake yourfelves? 
Is there any other refuge ? Are " the words of eternal 
life" to be found any where befides? We exhort, you, 
then, that whatever difficulties may await you, you 
would not " draw back unto perdition," but " with 
-purpofc of heart cleave unto the Lord." 

• 2 PcUii. 2u 



30S SCRIPTURE CHARACTERS. 



JESUS CHRIST. 



SECT. 21. 



yif:is replied to the cavils of Pharifees — cautioned the 
p^^pL' iijainJI tbtm — tried and comnunded the faith if 
a «.; •«*/>! cf Canaan ^wrought many cures — 'ftdpur 
thrijMid by a miracle — oppofed by Pharifees and iai* 
du.cfs — f ejhred fight to a blind man at Bethfaida^ 
declared his chara^er^ and foretold his pajjiorty to bis 
aijlipiesj requiring them al/o to fuffer with bim^ 

Though we are informed of many minute occur- 
rences in the life of Jefu?, mnny alfo are concealed 
from us. We are not told, whcth-M- he attended the 
celebration of the pafibvcr, wfiicli very Toon fucceeded 
the tranfadions, recoided in the preceding fedion. 
But, at that time efpecially, accounts of this very fin- 
pilar character might be carried from CTalilee to Jerii- 
\leili, which excited the envious difpleafure of the pub- 
and mod celebrated teachers of religion. Accord- 
ly, various perfons of th;tr defcription, the Scribes 
.pharifees, went dow^n from Jerufilem, probably to 
jernaum, which was at a cruifiderable diftance, 
*thc exprcfs purpofe of wa'^ching him, that they 
jht brin<- accufation againft him, ,or difcredit 

Hjl with le *. lliefe men, with all their 

arelcnCP' y» ^^^^ ^^^ ^^^^^ violent oppofers 

1— 2o. Mark ?ii. 1—23. 



• jBaus-cmttT. \^ 

<if the Saviour^ and werei eridendy, aduated by die ^ 
H^eft^npdves in their conduft towards him. They 
.^coyered |:reat zeal, by taking fo long a jeumev; 
mt It was ifi a bad caufe. Nor is it uncommon ror 
flhofe^ who refift the truth, to be at imiAenie paina 
fnd expenfe, and even to fuppofe that they are ^ do- 
ing God fervice,'* it the vetj tinve they are fiUed with 
enmity agaiqtt him. 
'" Pcrlons, fo difpofed, will feldom be at a loft for ob- 

e^ons. Somediing or other, in the moft exemplary 
haviour, will appear ceniurable to the envious and 
vsalidous eye. What caufe-.of complaint^ then, did 
tkefe in(idious adveriaries iind.againft the hdv Jefusf 
They uf^ratded him with the contempt, • wnich his 
jjNfciples fliewed for their traditions, in eating with- 
^mt iirft wafliing their hands. How ridiculous, and 
bpi^ palpable^ was their hjpocrify, who laid fuch 
iWefi on outward purifications, and perceived not 
their need of inward ian^ty ! Men are ever prone to 
depend on a ftri£l obfervance of rites and ceremonies 
eveA of their own invention, and to fubftitute them 
for " the power of godlinefs,*' or to imagine that thefe 
will compenfate the negledt of the moft exprefs, mo- 
ral injunctions. Jefus, therefore, convi6ted them of 
their glaring inconfiftency, in preferring their own 
fupjrftitious inftitutions to the abfolute precepts of 
God. He produced one inftance, in which they virtu- 
ally abrogated the fifth commandment. For they ex- 
cufed thofe, who, through a falfe pretext of piety and 
of devoting their fubftance to God, refufed to relieve 
their aged parents in diflrefs. They accounted it 
fufficient for them to fay, that they had bound them- 
felves by a vow to give their money to the treafury 
or fome facred ufe, and then they confidered them as 
freed from the obligation of contributing to the fup- 
port of their father or their mother. 

It is indifperifably required, that we ** learn firft to 
ibew piety at home^ and to requite out ^«x^ciX.%*, ^ot 



•o: ir : 



FT-m CHAXACTERJ. 



: I - e r ; r :• '"- :E or.? c: reli^on, 
: ;■■ ^: ir. r-=-rM'3on; r.or cz.i 

" • .• i rr cI ::!.-, be accepted 
-: z^zy. Y« in miny fach 

-fij-er? T.2ZZCT ;.-eir lidaJcJ 
::.= r. *i. rn^: rheir vilcdilE- 
: ~ -i.':-.r^^ bv cr,s rf their 
. ii iTM* J*:" cTc, :h»T "dre^f 
■ n:t-:.-u ^*i with ihtiz lip^diJ 

M :.-; - hi-ir: i:cm bim +." 
- :--r.;V-r:?:hfT;: H:vc 

■? :■ I.":;..- t^at: p^rtv, and in- 
-■-. i-:-rr:r\ wrS.c :heva!- 



:>, 


r. 


vj.: 


.?u> :r. 


li:>-eS 


. : .■" 


^ ^» 


. • .' 


i :.:;rc 


fe th;: 


:r 


.";; 


- ^■: 


-i* zei! 


wi:; b« 


:~; 7 


-^ 


■ .i- 


c^; Ah 


' vhi* 


r:;: 


,'r 


rf > : 


■^ CCWK 


: -n bf- 


■ . ■ '. 


:7 


.: 1 


>i the 


ir.wari 


"■-"-"■- r 


,-. 


rr.. 


: we c-erhin 


, -■- 


*■ 


" ;~i: 


■^ x-_> v^ 


Hifsry-? 




JESUS CHRIST- 311 

infatuated followers, would Toon be overwhelmed with 
final and remedilds dertru6tjon. 

It is an awful cafe^ when tbofe, who know not 
the way ro heaven, undertake to be public inftruilcrs. 
How fatal the effects to themfdves aiid others ! The 
deceived and the deceiver j however they may flatter 
and be flattered, fiiall pcrifh together. Let us nut, 
thereforej blindly and implicitly fubmit to the opi- 
nions and dictates of men, though they may bear a 
refpe£table charadter, or even fill the highetl: ftationi 
in the Church, But let us form, our judgment, not 
from human decifions, but from '^ the law and the 
teftimony/' fmccj whoever may be our teachers, w& 
^liiuii anfwer for ourfelves before the bar of God* 

The declarations of our Lord were not wall un* 
der flood even by his own djfciples. Having re- 
proved them, therefore, in fee ret for their dulnefs of 
comprehenfionj he affirmed in plainer terms, thjt the 
heart is the i'^at and fource of all moral pollution, th?.t 
the food which is received for ihe proper nojrifhment 
of the body, brings no defilement upon the foul, but 
that the man is rendered unclean and offenfive before 
(jod, only in conftrquence of his inward depravity, 
and that which proceeds from it. This is a do£trine, 
which calls for deephunnliation and conilaut circum- 
fpedtion- It would be eafy to eat with cie:in hands i 
but would that purge the confcience? Ah! ^* Who 
can f^y^ I have made my heart clean; 1 am pure 
from my fin * ?" According to the defcription, which 
Jefus here gave, our fjUen nature h f 1 fruitful of evil| 
that it puts forth, as its common produce, all man- 
ner of impurity. Hence we are taught to account 
for the various kiJids of iniquity in the world. Cor* 
rupt reafuning?, irre^^ular dcfire?, ftnfual afft'45lion?, 
kwdnefsj violence, diihoncrty, av^uicej malevolence, 
treachery, cavy^ profaiienef=, pride, and folly, have 

but 



i 




yj^ SCmiPTUEE CHARACTER^* 

i\jiS\, Though fr.r foivjc t\wt he appeared ynrelent- 
ing^nd inexorable^ at length his compailion brake 
fiirthj and then It was found, thai he h^d withhdJ 
from her the defircd mercy, only chat he mrghr e\er- J 
cifc her fjith, for its f^inh^r tncreare, and exhibit it 1 
to public view for the inftrud^iofT and encouragement 
of others. When, therefore, fhe had given fall pro'f i 
of her unfeigned humihty, and firm rehiince upon him, J 
ihe t>bt*iined her petition. He graciou/ly fmi^d upon ■ 
her^ declared his approbation of her behaviour, znA 
afTured her of the perfcft and inOantaneous rcQovtq 
of her daughter- 

What, then, do wtc le^rn fr^^m this Incident? We 
hear of Jefus; but do wc believe him to be *^ the 
Son cf D^ivid,'* the ** Lord," who c^n " have mere/, 
on us?" Have w€ no retjueft to makej no blefijng,j 
to implore from him? Let us pray with importurjitj-, 
and take no deniah Perhaps, he may deal v\ jtb us, as 
he did with the woman of Canaan, by Teeming to dtf- 
regard our didrefs, and to reject our fult with difdiin» 
But let not th^s apparent ncgle£l deter us: though 
lepulfed again and again, let us renew our applica- 
tion with frcfh ardour, and doubt not a happy iffje. 
He may require us to wait long for the very mercy, 
W'hich he ineJns to bef!ow. In the mean time, wc 
art to manifeft utir deep contrition before him, and 
the ftrength of our con^^dence in his power, failhful- 
nefs, and love. Nay, though our guilt and depravity 
may be urged againft us, as rendering us unfuitable 
objtfdls for the Siviour's notice, we mav folic) t him, 
the more earncftly, to glorify himfeif in our deliver- 
I ance. But ah! ho.v^ much impatience do we bf- 
■• tray ! How lilile are we able to bear any the leaft de- 
r lay ! How faun do we give op our expectation in df- 

rtcy; as if ^* the mercy of God were clean 
r ever, and his promife had failed for ever- 
How wretchedj then, would be our condi- 



JESUS CflR!ST. J*5 

. tiaoj if he flioulJ treat us According to oiir own wn- 

»fcclievirtg J^pprehenfions ! 

^P Jcfus^ having Icit the neighbourhood of Tyre andi 

Sidon, came near to the fea of Galilee^ where he af- 

tended a mountainj probably for the purpofe of in* 

ftrudli ng the mulcitades, who folio v^id him* Here» 

the cafe of onej deprived entirely of his hearing anl 

almoft of his fpeech, was fubmicted to him; nor wat 

his help implored in vain. Devoutly looking up id 

prayer, and then pronouncing the word wi[h pceiiliaf 

majeily^ he inftantly reftored the ob[lru£ted faculties 

L to their proper funftions* That he mi^ht avoid of- 

■ tentation^ or that he might not provoke the mahce of 

W his enemies, he defired the matter to be concealed 

P from public notice ; but the cure appeared fo wonder^ 

Hful, that it was foon prochumed abroad, and ;ill ex- 

BBrcfTcd their admiration of bis charadci-, faying^ *' He 

Hliath done all things well/' 

H Nor was this the only miracle, which he performed 
■" there* Many other infirm anti difeafed pcr(bns were 
F brought atid caf^ at hi.s feet, who excited his f^ity, 
and experienced his power to heal *• Thcfe aflo- 
nifhi ng events could not but make a deep imprefliuri 
on the minds of the people, \^hn, therefor^j "glori- 
fied the God of Ifrael" for his gracious interpohtion.: 
And fhall we he^ir of them with a cardefs indiffer- 
ence? Shall we not be induced, from fuch proofs of 
the ftrength and mercy of our Redeemer, to truft, 
and love, and praife, and ferve him? Shall we not 
perceive herein the performance of ancient promifes, 
and blcfs God, who " hath remembered his holy 
Covenant, and raifed up an horn bf falvation for 
us?*' 

The dignity of Jefus was difplayed In other in- 
ftances. Again he put forth his creative power, as 
on a former occafion, to fupply the neceffities of thofe 

* Mat XV. 30, &c» ' Mark Yiii. r-i-io. . 

P 2 wh^ I 



3i6 scurrvKB chakacteks. 

MuvcnI witli compaSoM 



cac people^ wlio hai coodaoed wtib him three 

~ woe then wtite deftitmc of food^ 

frooi I 





rof ihcfliitai woQccfroai thorown honiPSi 

latdhlefv ihEBiatbeflpcnlicUk He 

ivpHC Id tlMoi tiieir own 

* r cf fevn loanres anJ 

SMr^Bdi ifliesi «hidi«c»~feiiHiliipliedui the 

tfatt fbar thoofiud ptrCios, bcfidet W 

§Bi mibusBtd. The re- 

> of this ■ynDiHMtt teaftp wk^ at of the ferncfi 

[ the crigiial llwes levai haflcets of ftag^ 

d apt He has afiwded usfikft* 

r, ftfidi^ to dirpend upon him for 

ojr duir braS. Oalj kc as fbflMr him in the waf 
of ontv^'aadhemDaotfiAr asia* want anj good 
ttiii^.'" He •'gpwcth food to ail left;" naj, «« the 
caL.-th is bis, and the fainc6 thenof ;** fe that he caoi 
w:throt dificaltjv AipplT sH ow nccL He has in« 
f^rvcicd v*^ jlh^ we perceive, to be frugal in the 
fR-e!t c( ptcRtfy and not to lavidi hj an ufelefe profile 
f:ocs whit bis bcuntf beftoars. In crery cafe it is 
pro^r to ^ gather up the Iragmeitts, that nothing be 
lo:t." 

HiTiog cirmifled the multitodei he crofled the fea 
tc the ccaib of Magdala. Here a firefli attack was 
Tr.*6c upon him by a ccoipany oi Pharifees and Sad- 
d..c^cs united, who wiibed to cnfnare him ♦. Thefe 
men wtre as repugnant to each other in their princi- 
plef, as pnfisbc; the forirer being fuperftitious in 
the extreme, the latter perfe<!il j licentious : but they 
came toieihcr to tjmpt Jefus. We fee, that pcrfons 
rf opposite tempers of different (entiments, and of 
adverii parties, who cordially hate one another, can 
ft^ their animonties for a feaibn, and fDrget their 
evolence, that they may join their ftrength 

Mat* zvL x«— jju Mark vuL xi«— fti« 

and 



lEStrS CHRIST* 3T7 

md mtereft, m a£ting again ft Cbriftp Thefc Aibtfe 
vnragonitis, like modcrrt iiifitJebj objeiEteJ to the 
ijfficjcacy ^ his evidfiicc, and deman<Jed of him 
nother lort of atEeft-itinm than what he had yet 
riven- They dchred "• a fign from heaven^** intend* 
ng, probably, fomc fpitudid appearance in the fkies- 
Biit is it not the height of pridfe and infblcnce for hn^ 
ici s to prefcribs unto God^ what meafures of condutSt 
le fliodd pmrfuG towards thetn, what kind of a reve- 
ation he ihould zBord ihem^ or by what panfcubr 
tertimouies it ihould be confirmed I Men preftiiT^ptu- 
pufly defpifc and reject the plain and uiconteft^ible 
proofs, by which he has ettnced the truth of hisGof^ 
pel, and arrogamiy call for thofe, which he has wifely 
denied, and which j alfo, would be incffectuai to con- 
vince them. 

Many diicover an aCttte dircejmment in their at- 
ten>tiiDn to worldly things, who betray the grollcft ig- 
ncnirice and ftapor in f^Jiritti.jl concerns* They wilt 
alfo traiifa*^ their fccular afiitr.T with confiJencCj 
where they hive nothing to depend on, hut mere con- 
}e£lare; and yet h-izarJ th-ir eternal f^lvation, whik- 
they are petulantly obje^Siirig to the infallible creden- 
tials of the holy fcriptures. Such was the cafe of 
thofe captious difputants, who attacked the Saviour ; 
and on this gro.utrd he reproved their mconCftency 
u\ forming an accurate judgment of the weather, and* 
yet obftinately refufmg to fee '^ the figns cf the 
times." He then declared, with deep diftrefs for 
their awfbl ftate, that no fuch- evidence, as they de-» 
fired, would be granted, except it were his own re- 
feirrtftion on the third day;: and then he left them to 
themfelves, departing to the oppofite fide of the lake- 
Le^ their cafe rtand as a fblemn admonition to thofe^. 
who A^idy to invalidate revelation by their f-btle ar-^ 
gumeius. Alas! while you are debating, Jefus may 
cmirdy withdraw himfelf from you, and give you up 



i 



31 8 SCRIPTURE CHARACTERS. 

to corrupt reafonings, and a confirmed obduracy cf 

hcarf. 

When tiiey had croflcd the fea, the difciplcs of 
Jcfus were diftreflcd to find, that they had nearly ex- 
haullcd their whole ftock of provifions. Their Maf* 
tcr, to turn off their attention to a more profitable 
fuhjedt, cautioned them to '* beware of the Wven 
of the Pharifccs and of the SadduceeSj" in tend bg 
thereby to guard them againft the dangerous optniom 
of tliote falfe teach erSj whom he had lately combatd, 
But they were fo anxious about their bodiry Me* 
i^ance, that they confidered him only as direding 
th^mj what bread they were to avoid. He repro^d 
rhem^ therefare, very ftiarply for entertaining tit 
ilitlruiling fear of wanting food to eat, after having 
twice (een, as they had done, tboufinds fupportedbj 
a miracle* Do not moft of our own painful appre- 
heoftons arifc from a f jrgetfulnefs of the Lord's graci-i 
ous interpofiuons in our favour ? Oh f what £ham£ si»i 
coiifufion belong to us, becaufe we have profited no 
more by o'jt pa it experience) 

jefus then declared explicitly, that he meant W 
i;ii:ird them again ft thofe corrupt doctrines of his ( 




]f.%US CHRlSTi 319 

J.Tlis came to Bcthfaids, where tie was requefted 
to extend his cofupalTion to a blind maa *. He 
readily confentedj and yet he chofc not tcx perform 
the mir^de within the confines t'f the town, nar would 
he futFer the perfon to return thtthcr, to publrh his 
cafe: which might hi: iiKended a? a mark of his dit-* 
pTejfure againft the unbelieviag inhabitants. Many 
of the afton'rfhing effects of hi^ power and grace^ at 
this time alfj, are purpofely concealed from the ob- 
fervation of finners, who would be difpofed to treat 
tHern with contempt and derifion. But the day is 
approachingv whea M his wonderful works^ and the 
excelleney of his character, (hall be made known to 
t^rc alTemblcd uiiiverfe> to the unfpe^Akable joy of his 
faithful people, and the conftifion of his enemies, 

^V'hen he had withdrawn the man to a little dilbnce 
from the city^ he reftored his fight, bvit in a gradual 
manner. At the firfl touch of the Saviour, fome 
Faint glimmerings of light were conveyed to the 
darkened eye?, fo that things were perceived very ob- 
fcLirely, and men appeared ^* as trees walking," But^ 
upm the fecond touch, evct^y object was fi:cn diftin^^^yp 
In every one of his miracle?=, Jefus exhibited his di- 
vine perfections: but he did not confine htmfdf to a 
l>articular mode of operation. In fame inftances, we 
Upprebend, the full blaze of day was fuddenly poured 
in upon the blind^ but here was a regular advance 
from one degree of clcaniefs to another. It is ti^c 
fame in fpiritual concerns. He alone ^^ gtveth light 
^rid onderftanding to the ftmple^'' but the methods 
(t)f hi!; grace are different in di fit rent perfons, Wq 
tritjfl not dictate to him, nor (:t up ihe c:ife of any 
Chfiilian as a ffandard^ ta which that of all odicis 
muft be accommodated. Some maybe inftantaneou^y 
*' called out of darknefs into marvellous light j" whilll 
Ciany attain, by a flaw . progrefs, to.tbe knowledge 

* Mark viii^ 22— 26«. 

P4 ci^ 



322 SCRIPTURE CHARACTERS. 

From this circumftance, Jefus was led to ad(Ire&, 
HOC his difciples only> but the multitude at large, oA 
the ncceflity of being willing to fuffer with hha. 
Let us attend to his folemn declarations ; for theycoiH 
ccrn ourfdves. Do we profefs a regard to him? He 
exhorts us to enter upon a ftridi courfe of ielf-deoiaii 
and to fubmit to extreme dtfficixlties, even to martjr* 
dom itfelf) in his caufe. We ifiuft teftify a grated 
fcnfe of his love, and a pure defire to promote bis 
glory, bv ticrificing eafe, interefl, reputation^ and life 
itfclf, wnen we are required, for his fake. A flroog 
attachment to prcfent enjoyments may ruin us for 
ever; but a cheerful renunciation of every thine dear 
and valuable upon eanh, in the (ervice of Chrill, 
will be recompenfcd with eternal bleflednefs here- 
after. 

Are any deterred, by fuch confiderations, from fol- 
lowing the Saviour? Then make your choice, and, 
if vou pleafe, prefer the world to him. . Secure ie 
heft delights, and, if it be poffible, pofTefs the whole 
of its pomps, its dominion, or its pleafures: what will 
you have gained ? Can you eftimate your profit, when 
you Gull be rtje£lcJ of God, and your fouls befcfti 
bevontl the power of recovery, for ever? Is th^ream 




No: Tie w-tH feparate J^ou from their compainyj for 
whom yoi dared not to avow an attachment upoii 
earth ; he will reject you with abhorrence, and cojj- 
ffgn you to a ftate of unytterible confjiliOBs torment^ 
and defpair, ' .- 

Such was the purport of ant Lord*s folemn admo* 
nitions; and m the fame manner ihould fmncrs of 
the prefent day be warned. Perhaps the objection 
might be raifed, If he were indeed of that exalted dig- 
nity^ which he reprefented^ why did not his glory im- 
mediately appear f And it might be with a view t© 
obviate the difficulty, that he aftured the perfom 
around hjm, that fame of them fliould not die^ till 
they had feen a grand exhibttioji of \m majefty, which 
might be confidered a? the commencement of his go- 
vernment. Some have fuppofed, thit this referred tci 
his transfiguration, wh^h foon followed; but it has 
more generally been explained of that remarkable dlf- 
play of his power, which took place in the deftrufllon 
of Jerufalem, to the overthrow of his enemies, and 
the efiahltftiment of his Church* That event he fre- 
quently deicribed as his^ coming; and it was an awful 
emblem of his future- and more illuftrious advent for 
the final judgment of the world. 

His predictions have been in part fulfilled; and in 
due time, when his righteous purpofes are effe6l:ed, 
they will all have their full completion. He will be 
revealed in his glory, as he hath told us ; *' and every 
eye (hall fee him.*' How (hall weftand before him? 
What is our hope and expectation ? Does the profpeft 
of his manifeftation fill us with delight? For fo it 
ought to do, if wc be indeed partakers of his falvation. 
It is the privilege of his faithful people te look and 
long for his appearing, crying, " Come, Lord Jefus, 
come quickly/' But fuch as remain at enmity againft 
him, have abundant caufe to dread " the day of the 
Lord .' - In vain would they call upon the rocks and 
P 6 mountains 



i 



3?4 



fCRIPTUM CKA&ACTEftS.. 



mountains to cover them, and hide them Oram ! 
face. They mud be arraigned' at bis bar; and tk 
evcrbfting doom (hall be pronounced from 
onouth.-*-May we find mercy of the Lord in thatd 
and enter with bim into kis king^dom fat ev 
Ameo^i 




JESUS CBRIST* 



S E C T. a2» 



y^fus iCfas transfigured^ and dtctared to be the Son of, 
God — expelled an evilfpirit^ which his Atoffles could 
not — warned them of his approaching jufftrtngs^-r 
paid the/acred tribute by a miracle-^fuggejied folemn: 
eautions againfl ambtionj offences^ contempt of any^ 
the weake^ believers^ fevertty and revenge towards, 
an offending brother^ 

The Lord Jefus Chrtft appear^cT iipoiv eardi in » 
ftate of profound bumiliation : the brightnefs of his 
•rigiral glory being oMsuj%d by the infirmities oi 
hum^ity, and the external meannefs of his condi«^ 
tion.. His example, indeed^ his pceaching,. and his 
miracks, proved him to i>e, not only fuperior to the 
children of men, but ^^ the Lord from heaven.'" 
There were alfo certaiti occafions, on which his true 
dignity was difplayed in a very fignal manner- The 
following, infiance is of that kind; and it (eems to 
have been, intended, not foe vain parade, but £or im-^ 
portant purpofes to himftlf and. others.. 

About a week after the folemn. addrefs to his dif- 
ciples, which, was laft mentioned, he retired to a high 
mountain (fuppofed by fome to be mount Tabor), 
fox tht purpofes of fecret devotion *. He feleded 
three out of the twelve, Petery James, and John,t his 

^ Mut* xyij't i«»Ji« Mark ix« s^— 13. Luk« ix* 28—36. 






r'«i.:c* 



l". i 



L-r-iT-: r-r:cirr. — ar r-ej rr^'^iht be witnefles cf a 
— «:^ :.*^.:i .:•:.:. :r : - £■-*"■. i5 :3i_v ibon afterwards 

zhc sarden of Geih- 
15 z« c :rcred up his fer- 
-ri a moil magnificent 

mdi tbclui^reof 

and fuch i 

hodj, dsac the np^ is 

wbkh alfa wtre 

l^it idcif. Twattni- 

id bccTi hofiouftd in }ti 

mti, EXf^hf t^cn attended 

a gtiiterifig^ rrfplen- 

mA bim oe the grand d^ 

t ^crifce wfu'ch he wi* 

«f afeankiau, by hi^ crun- 

we?! O f t! wb efm fiie 
&llcn aJle^ fj^roi^ 





eternal Father, and the obje£t of his fupreme com-* 
placency^ and required an earned regard and an un« 
feigned fubmiffion to him* Here, then, was a dear 
revelation, and a near approach of the Deity. But^ 
was not the grand exhibition too much for human 
powers to fuftain ? Alas ! fuch is our ftate of infirmity, 
and fuch the cffcA of guilt upon the confcience, that 
the moft advanced faints in this world would feel fome 
degree of terror, if God were to manifcft himfelf to 
them in his glorious majcfty, though fweetly tempered 
with grace and mercy. If our eyes fhould behold the 
Lord of hofts, we (bould exclaim, as Job,. ** I abhor 
myfelf, and repent in duft and afhes *:*' or as Ifaiah, 
« Wo is mcf for I am undone f-'* or as Peter, 
** Depart from me, for I am a finful man, O Lord J.'* 
So thefe three diftinguifhed difciples ^^ fell on their 
fiace, and were fore afraid," But Jefus, who under- 
takes to introduce his people into the prefence of 
God, and to give them confidence before him, im« 
mediately interpofed to fupport and comfort them* 
He put his hands on them, and encouraged them to 
arife, and lay afide their fears. 

The transfiguration was ended •, the heavenly vifit- 
ants difappeared^ and Jefus, being left alone with hn 
Apoftles, charged them not to divulge what they had 
feen, till after his refurre6tion. Perhaps, their ac- 
count of it would not have been credited before that 
event, and it might have produced fome dangerous 
confequences. It (hould feem, that they expelled 
Elijah's continuance among them, and were furprifed 
at his being withdrawn. For it was commonly fup- 
pofed from Malachi's predi£^ion, that he would rec- 
tum to dwell on the earth, to efFe£t a general refor-^ 
mation, and thus pave the vt^y for the kingdom of 
Meffiah §. But Jefus taught them, that the pro- 

• Job xlli. 6. •{• Ifa. vi. 5. 



5]0 SCRll^TURE CHAHACTERS. 

Vulfed with fits, and tortured m varioits ways thrf^sfgli 
the pofTeflian of an evil ipirit- The father, reprefcnt- 
\ng the cafe, kneeled as an humble Tupplicant atdit 
feet of Jcfus, and cried, '* Lord, haVe mercy oamf 
fon; — if thou canft do any thing, have compaiSon oft 
ufj, and help us/' In this very application, the man 
hid difcovcrcd fomc df grec of depeiTdence j but Joubt 
and hcfitatton fecmed to be mi seed with it: and pff- 
haps his principles were fbaken by the oppofuion of 
the Scribt**, and by the failure of the difciples, w^o 
had tried in vain tocffeft the cure, Jefus, iherefort, 
required a n>ore decided teftimony of his faiths arid 
obferveJ, that the greateft delii/erances were not too 
much to be cxpe*Elccl in an hum Vic reliance upon him. 
The poor petitioner, being inftantly conviiSlcd of bij 
weaknefs, exclaimed, with evident oiarks of difcfcj 
" Lord, I believe, help thou mine unbelief,*' The 
confeflion was accepted, and the prayer granted. The 
Saviour did not even upbraid him wi^th Ms diftni!^^ 
but proceeded to perfarm his requeft- Fie rebokri 
and expelled the devil, who f?femed unwilling to rt* 
linquifh his hold, s^nd, even in the a^St of departing! 
grlevoyfly tormented the unhappy patient* After fui* 




JESUS CHRIST* 33* 

not withhold his favour from you on accoi^nt of it: 
** Lord, I believe 5. help thou mine unbelief.'* Nor 
fhould you entreat him for yourfelves alone, but for 
your friend, or your child in diftrefs* In all circum- 
ftances, he can extend to you the very relief, which 
you want. 

The difciples, as we have intimated, in vain at- 
tempted to expel the demon : and at this they exprefi^ 
ed their wonder, when they had retired with their 
Mafter. They had wrought many miraculous cures 
before, and, perhaps, for that very reafon, they were 
too felf-fufficient, forgetting their entire dependeiKre 
upon him for ali their fuccefs. At leaft, in this in-^ 
ftance- their faith failed them; and, accordingly, he 
taught them, that, only by maintaining a conftant 
reliance upoo him, though it were but in a feeble 
manner, they fhould perform the moft aftonifliing 
operations. He further obferved, that it was necef-* 
fary to implore divine afliftance, efpecially on folemn 
occafions and in great difficulties, by a more than or* 
denary meafure of devotion and humiliation. 

We are not called to the fame high office, or in- 
vefted with the fame powers, as i\\e Apoftles. But 
we have all, in our refpedlive places, continual need 
of God*s ftrengthening and fupportiiig haiKl. In the 
view of our feveral duties and trials, we may fee rea- 
fon to cry out, " Who is fufficient for thefe things?'* 
Perhaps, our good endeavours have mifcarried, " be- 
caufe of our unbelief." With what temper of mind,^ 
have we fet ourfelves to combat our fpiritual enemies? 
Shall we wonder„ that we have been defeated, or that 
our corruptions ftill retain their afcendanc^y, notwith- 
ftanding our oppofition? For is it not true,, here alfo,, 
that the victory, we feek,. cannot be obtained, " but 
by prayer and fading?'* ^ 

From the mount of transfiguration, Jefi^" ^ 
through different parts of Galilee, There 
opportunities of privacy, that he miglit o« 




334 SCHIPTURE CHAHACtERS- 

them debat ig upon the road, conccmmg the right 
of prcceJcn y in his kingdoni j for, ftill expeding i 
tcmporjd dj niiiion, and being too much atider the 
Kifiuence o. an anibitioas ipirilj they were all eager 
to obtain toe higheft ^^laces of preferment. But, 
when he ha.d enquired the fubje£^ of their difpute, and 
they feemed aihamed to av^ow it, he fpoke to their f.-- 
cret thoui^hts, and fuggefted, that, to be truly ho- 
nourable in his account^ they muft poflefs other dif* 
pofidon^t and excel i ' ■" . At lengthy thev in* 
iroduced ihe matter i riding that it was not 

concealed, and afked Who is the greateft?" 

To this he replied, wnut ' ought an infant before 
tbem, and took hini in iul ms, ihat^ except they 
were converted to God, endered meek, teach- 

able, and free from defigni lilc and afpiring views, 

Hke little children^ the;^ *" not only attain no ex- 
altation, but have no all in his kingdom; 
and that the perfon, wnt- tvered moft of an un- 
feigned lowlinefs of minJ, itood thehigheft in his fa- 
vour. 

And are we duly fenfible of the fpiritual nature of 
our religion ? Are we not aiming at worldly grandeur 
and pre-eminence, inftead of attending to the frame 
irf" our fouls? What have we known of real cohver- 
fion of heart ? Is not the very term treated with pro- 
fane ridicule, as if the mention of it proved a man a 
vifionary and an enthufiaft? But furely, if converfion 
were fo abfolutely neceflary in our Lord's time^ it 
cannot now be dilpenfed with, however the idea may 
be fcorned among us. Where fhall we look for 
Chriftian humility? Do all, who pretend to be the 
difciples of Jefus, bear evident marks of a child-like 
fimpiicity, modedy, fubmiffion, and dependence? Ot 
rather, is not fuch a dilpofition derided as a defpicable, 
meannefs? How ftrange, that thofe (bould retain the 
•ame of Chriftianity, who arc afliamedofits peculiar 
xcellencies and moll eflential attributes ! Do we judge 

of 



B« -- 335 

cjF ot:r growth in grace, by the criterion here hid 
down? Do wc become more and more abafi'd in oar- 
fdves? Hiive we a deeper fcnfe of the maHgiiity of 
fin, and of our extreme depravity? Do we Icirn to 
try ft, more unfefervedly, to the help of God^ and 
tinily to maintain faith in the Redeemer^ more firmly, 
for every blefling I Thus only lliall we prove our ad- 
vancemem m the divine life, and our progrefe towards 
heaven. 

Jcfus, having mentioned one diRinguifliing part 
in the character of his people, proceeded to ftiew, 
what a tender regard ihould be paid to them. He 
liccUred, that whatever fa\ our wa^ d jne unto any of 
them, though it wt^re one as feeble as the infant in 
his arms, he would confider as done unto hinifclf; 
but that a contempt of them, or a deliberate purpofc 
to turn them out of rhe way, or interrupt them in ky 
would be fi llowed by a puniftimentj infinitely more 
tremendous than any temporal deltruition. Alas ! 
how many fuch ftumbling-bbcks are liid before us, 
as not only obftru<St the weak, but prove fatal to the 
ibuls of thoufands! So circumftanccdj indeed, as we 
now are, thefe tilings are to be expected: by inevit- 
able confequence they will occur. But how provok- 
ing to God; how terrible the efFe£ts ! " Wo unto the 
world, becaufe of offences ! Wo to that man, by whom 
the offence cometh !" 

Would you avoid the awful denunciation? Then 
Beware, left there be fomething in your temper and 
condufi^, which may be the means of feducing others, 
or prejudicing their minds againft the truth of God. 
Attend to what the Saviour has fuggefted in his folema 
exhortation. It may be expedient for you to relin- 
quifh the moft delightful gratification^ every favourite 
luft, every worldly profpefl, though as dear to you, 
and in your eftimation as neceffary, as a hand, a foot^ 
or an eye. Do not hefitate, becaufe the mortifica- 
tion is painful. It were far better, purely, to fuffer 



• r 



aud the fire h nut qucj^chcdi** The 6 
the IVIdfarc kw were fprinkled with faJc 
to wlrich it is afTerted, that '* every i 
facrifice to ihe juftice of God, ^* fhall 
fircj" and thU reprefcnts the Bercenefl 
jinturc of ihofc fljmef, to which the U 
be doomed* Would you efcape theirs 
lion is clear: " every facrificc {hall 
felt j** That i^» every one, truly devote 
whom he will accept, muft be confecr 
vice by hi^j^race, which alone can purif 
the fowl. This is «* the fait,** which 
tain; or elfe^ notwithftanding your jc 
fion» yoy will be worthlefs and contcmj 
l*he fybjetEl being important, Jefus * 
enforce an afTetriiofiate regard to the lei 
eft of his members* While he held] 
his arms, he obferved^ that 'we ought 
even fuch an iJifanr, upon which the ve^ 
coEnmiffioned to attend : much \tfs^ the 
jfdain ihofe, reDtefented bv the ba 



JESUS CHRIST. 337 

cured within his fold. We, alfo, fliould pofiefs a fi- 
milar difpofition; and, therefore, fo far from ob- 
ftriitting the falvation of any foul, we (hould delight 
in promoting it. 

Evena Chriftian brother may fometimes aft in- 
con fiftently, and we may fuffer through his mifcon- 
du£t. But we are not therefore rafhly to abandon 
him, or indulge a vindiftivc temper. We arc im- 
mediately to attempt his reftoration, firft by private 
admonitions, then by the interference of a few com- 
mon friends, and, if that method (hould be inefFedual, 
by the more public cenfures of the religious commu- 
nity, to which we belong. It is only, when every 
effort fails, that we may proceed to the painful ex- 
tremity, and renounce all fellowfliip with him. Per- 
iiaps, this expedient may be lalutary; at leaft, it will 
be proper. And, that difcipline might be maintained 
in his Church, our Lord has aflured us, that the de- 
cifions of his minifters and people, a6ling in his name 
and from a regard to his glory, (hall be ratified in hea- 
ven. Not only for the regulation of a Chriftian 
fociely, but for the encouragement of all to me:-t in 
a dependence upon him, for the purpofe of united 
prayer, though it (hould be only in the fmalleft com- 
4>anie5, he foK-mnly promifed, that their petitions 
fhould be granted, and their affemblies honoured with 
his own immediate prefence: " There," faid he, 
" am I in the midft of them." How exalted is the 
language! How gracious the declaration! He can 
be no other tian the Omnipotent Jehovah, who 
"** (illeth heaven and earth," fmce he engages to mani- 
fcft himfelf in all the various places where his people 
meet, at the fame moment of time. He fpc^^ks alio 
in terms peculiar to th^ Deity, ^ I am." Yet" as 
iiis majefty is, fo is his mercy." He will not be un- 
mindful of them, who feelc him. Let them alTociat** 
together in his name, profefTing their regard to ) 
and o(Fa- up their joint petitions, " wki\ ow^ ti\\v:^ 

VOLy 111. (^ 



3j8 SCRIFTURE CHARACTEKS. 

en'jm^uth" pk^ding his irierlts^ atid they ftiaU knowr 
th^t he IS in the mitlft of them, by the flraigtbaini 
comfort of hh Spirit. Surely, the promil'i: ihouU 
enliven our afFedlions^ and eiilarge our ej!pe£htiaii5| 
in his fcrvice. 

As our Lord had in ft (led on the manner, In whki 
difl'cafjom between Chriilians fliould be healedj ?t^ 
t'.ok cKcalion to propofe the enquiry, how often for- 
givenefs Ihould be extended to an offending brothfr^ 
as if fume limits fhould be affixed to the excrciltof 
cur patience and forbearance. But Jefus, in bts I^ 
ply, has taught uSj that, if inj uries fliould be mulri* 
plied againft us without number, we (hould fiill t* 
ready to pardon, not merely *^ until fcvcn time?, M 
until feventy timt^s fcvcn i" and even that our ieniij 
to others ftioiild be as unboLinded as that of Gqdii 
towards us* This aflonifljing compafHon and gnct 
of our God is rcprereatcd in an afFe«5ting prabld 
He is the great King> who " takes account of hisfcf- 
vants,** and to whom we are indebted in alargcf 
fum, than w^c are able to compote. Should be ngo 
roufly demand the payment, our cafe would Mtd 
be diTperatc, Let us try the eftc*5t of an humble 




JEStJS CffRIBT. 3J(J^ 

the injuries, which ^e can poflibly fuflam from one 
^tother, compared with our manifold and heintju^ 
provocations againil God, If, theiij in the warmth 
0f our refentment, we conclude, that our brother ha^i 
Ino claim to our CompaOion, and we refufe to extend 
any mercy to him^ what do we, but pafs fentt^nce upon 
ourfelves? The indignation of the lord, who had 
Ifliewn fo much tendernefs, was mufed againll: the in- 
rxorablc wretch. '* So like wife,** ITiid our divine 
;Teachcr^ " fhall my heavenly F'ather da alfo uota 
you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his 
brother their trefpalTes/' 

How tremendous is the thought, that a mahciouSj 
truel, and revengeful difpofition is odious in the f\ght 
iQf God, andj unrepented of, will bring down hh 
hcavieft difpleafurc! And how forcible an argument 
iloes it fuggell for the exercife of mutual forbearance, 
candour, and love among Chriltians! ^^ Let all bit- 
ternef?, and wrath, and anger, and clam our j and evil- 
fpeaking, be put away from you, with all malice. And 
be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving' 
one another, even as God for Chr ill's fake hath for- 
given you */* 



Q.a JTL^\i^ 



i 



Sp SCRIPTiTRE CHAEACTERS. 



JESUS CHRIST. 



SECT. 22 



yefy^ repr&ffchtd by hii i 
tahiynachs^taught jV 
fervtd frsm th^ rage 
an ^f the Sanhedi 
adttlterefs — renewed 
varhus cavih — ajer * 
rack ifcaped a viikm 



mpk — miracuhujly pn- 
rnpli^ and /rem the #^- 
talid Uj €mc€Tnini an 
c inftru^km — anfwtrd 
"^iityy and miy ly a mi- 



It was a ftnking proof of the condefcenfion of 
Jefus^ and no fmall part of it, that he ** endured fach 
comradiftion of finncrs againft himfdf *.*' That 
He, who " is Lord of aiy fhould dwell in mortal 
fleOi^ was an inftance of deep humiliation: yet he 
ftoopcd ftill lower, in bearing the malicious infults 
and violent oppafition of ihofe^ who were not only 
the crcitures of his hands, but obnoxioas to his 
wrath, and whom he might in a moment have con- 
founded and dcftroyed for ever. He fuffered thnr 
perverfenefs with unexampled patience, and laboured 
inceflantly for thtir good- May hts fervants kam 
from Him ** to be gentle unto all men, and in meek- 
"pf-i to inftru£t thofc that oppofe themfelves !" 

't has been remarked, that our Lord continued to 
ch in Galilee; and it is accounted for by an 
ngeliftj who obferves, that be d;;dined fpendiug 



* HcW zli. 3. 



much 



i /ESUS CHRIST. 314^ 

Lnach time in the neighbourhooii of Jerufikm, be- 
ftaiife of the mardercus defigns, which 'wtre there 
Iformed agaiiill him *, At the appro-ach of the fc;aft 
H>f tabernacles fi though he intended to be pref^^nt at 
uhe cclebraiLon of that folemnlty, he delayed his iour- 
ioey for fome days, that he might attrarf the lefs no- 
nice. But his brethren (vvhich exprefTion includes all 
nhcfe, who were nearly related), knowing his con* 
iHant practice,, wondered at this delay, and, with an 
Enfolent tiunt, defired Mm to take that opportunity 
Ipf going to difplay his works at Jeruf^deir; as \f he 
■courted papulafityj and aimed at ntJtl>ri>g ncore than 
Rtiblic applaufe. Never was ^ny objection moir 
raroundlefs or more invtdious than this* Hi«» whole 
dcponmcnt niiinSfefled a. contrary difpofuion. But 
men, wi h a male^ols'nt heart, are capable of the 
bdftiil mifreprefentations. There were unb^licvers| 
we perceive^ among the kindred of JefuSj and pro- 
bably in the fiime boufe with bim, whoj though wit- 
ncfles of his exemplary holinefs and miraculous ope* 
rations, derided and rejeiSed him. They, who dwell 
in a pioijs family, who aire iacimately connected with 
a perfon eminently religious, enjoy petidiar advan- 
tages for rh^ir own fpiritual improvementi bur, even 
in fo favourable a fituatioiij they may remain in ig* 
norance and contempt of thofe principk?^, the excel- 
lency of which is continually before their eyes. We 
do not wonder, therefore^ that the faithful lervants of 
Chriit arc often fhamcfully calumniated hy thofe, who 
are nearly slhcd to th^^m; efpecially as we obferva 
fuch malignant reproaches call upon their Lord and 

* John VII. I, £:£« 

f Thi; was CUE of the grind tid'ivih of the Jews, ^ppotnted in 
re me FT* brine J of their anceilLUs dwelling in ttsnts, and kept for feven 
or eight da^s together id bwJtbs, which were built for LbaC pyrpolE, 

as K^ 



i 




' icmrkevi 

' VQild|, 3S to 

lac- 

wfeidi is 

. ^ Hnful 

that it 

ftnrSe conptanoe 

mmmm^ Paitapsi 

lift lie eocDpAoy 

imK mamowtd ^biGU^ 

fnwxj. Ha^ be 

bit proMilj, have l»efti 

tUgioo: for tbere was 

inmfi^} ^tcrt unf mucli 
It is evident, ihen, 
on diTinc ordl- 
H fl»^ he » MOM dl rigfateoufoe^^'* and kft 
a pcHrd rnniple to hi» peoplr. W'^hat rcicrobljucc 
ot bim do tbcj bear, wbo oegloS die facrrd mftitu- 
ticTi^ o4 GoG*$ hwiief Da iwit their very excufes con- 
vict tbcm oi pTfjisQefKhj indolence, or avarice? To 
tread in his tle|K, wc maft carefully oblerve iheaft- 
pomied tioies and foleronides of public worthip. 

It might be^ allb, to miroiii ollentation as wel! » 
«biigcr, that Jcfus travelled to Jcrufalem in private. 
Perhaps even there he concealed hirofelf upon his firii 
anival; whik warm debates were held conceraing 
him, fomc allowiag his integrity, others condemnmg 
him as a deceiverj and none daring to avow an at- 
t^ichmcm to him- But, about the midft of the fefti- 
va!, excicciJ, doubtlcfs, by a pure zeal for the honour 
cl Go^i, and compaflion for the iouls of the very ru- 
^ ^ • mcrous 



JESUS CHRIST. 34j 

herous congregation then aflembled, he appeared in 
he tertiple, and delivered his holy inftruAions with 
in unfliaicen firmnefs and intrepidity. The Jews im- 
nediately perceived fuch a depth of facred knowledge 
n his addrefs to them, as they could not account for, 
roniidering the meannefs of his education. But he 
jroceeded to declare, that he was inverted with a 
sommiflion from heaven, and that his do£trine was 
not the fruit of human learning, or the dedu6lions of 
reafpn, but a dire£^ revelation from God. He ob- 
fervcd, that the evidences were fuch as would con- 
vince an hbneft enquirer, and that the man, who was 
fenoully difpofed to do the will of God, would cer- 
tainly attain a right underftanding of the truth, how- 
ever obfcure or abfurd it might feem to others. As 
to himfelf, he maintained, that he fought nothing but 
the divtne glory, and therefore that they fiiould give 
him credit, at leaft, as being no import or. 

The Gofptl, then, which Jefus taught, demands 
(6ur unfeigned regard, becaufe it is a meflkge from 
God. Herein he ftill preaches to us, as he did ta 
the Jews of old. Let us examine, whether we 
•* know of the doftrine.'* Arc we perfuaded of its 
authority and excellence ? Have we a clear percep- 
tion of its grand defign ? And have we carefully traced 
its diftinguifhing lineaments ? If otherwife, we (hould 
fufpe£t in ourfelves an unfoundnefs of heart, a deter- 
mined love of fin, and a fpirit of prefumptuous dif- 
obedience to God. Thefe are the chief caufes of 
infidelity and ignorance, where the truth of God is 
fent: and it is generally evident, that men's difficul- 
ties and objedtions betray a perverfc and unholy dif- 
pofition. 

Jefus, by a bold appeal, accufed his hearers of 
tranfgreffing that very law, of which they boarted, 
and even charged fomc of them with harbouring de- 
figns of violence againft him. They, indeed, denied 
the impuution, and infolently reviled bvvov l<^t '\x^ \ 

Q-4 



344^ " SCRIPTURE CHARACTERS 

if he were under the poffefEoa of the dcviU Butfic 
proceeded to convi£l them of perfecuting him vn 
iT.uch bittcmcfs merely becaule he had cured the 
pfjor impc^tcnt man^ at the pool of Bethefdaj onihc 
fibbMh *. And, having argued their inconniicncyk 
condemning that miraculous work of mercy, js i 
violation of the law, while they themfelves conWj 
performed the rite of circmrtcuion on the facrcdday^ 
in obedience to the f^nie law, he exhorted them no 
longer to decide agaiaA him by a partial aad m]d 
judgment. 

Many of the people were impreiled with an admi- 
ration, of his courage, efpecially when they knew that 
there were fcrious intentions of deftroying himj w^ 
yet they tooliftily concluded, that he could not k the 
Meffiah, becaufe they thought his low ex trad ion in- 
compadbk with that high chara6ter, T^o thefecap* 
fuius advtrfaries he replied^ that, notwithilanding 
their fuppofed acquaintance with hfm and his ongiflj 
he cjme to them with an exprefs and full comniiffim 
from thut God, of whom they were ignorant, arii 
that he had the mofl intimate communications and 
union with htm* Alasf how ruany deceive ihetn- 



1 




JE5Ui CHRIST. 3*S 

poffible, that they fliauld have power to deftroy h\m^ 
till all the purposes of Heaven were accompUflied iti 
him. Yet there were many of the lower order, who 
feemed convinced that he was indeed the Chriftj for 
they argued rightly, that the promired Deliverer could 
not p rform more ailonKhing operations, than JefuS 
had done- Thefe iavourable dilpofitions in the people 
towards him alarmed the great council of the San- 
hedrim, then aJTcmbled, who immediately fent their 
officers ta apprehend him. But the malevolent de- 
fign wai^ baffled » Jefus contmued to preach, evt-n 
before the face of thofe, who were charged with n 
commiflion to fetze him* He learned them, that, 
notwithilanding their oppnfition, he fhould pro- 
ceed in his work a little longer, that fliortly, rc- 
turnjn2- to the (tate of glorious exaltation, which he 
had Icfr, he fhould be removed beyond the reach of 
their violeficc, and that tliey might leek in vain to be 
admitted into his prefence. How folemn the admo- 
nition! Alas! how few confidered the time of their 
vifitationf How (^w^ in our own day, confider, thtt 
Jefus, who waits upon them in the minillry of his 
word, will foon withdraw himfelf, that the gracious 
offers, now made them, will never be renewed, and 
that an eternal feparation muft take place between 
them and that Saviour, whom they defpife ! " Where , 
He is, thither they cannot come." 

While they were puzzled to comprehend his mean- 
inc:, he proclaimed aloud the rich mercy of the Gof- 
pei, inviting the application of all, who were truly 
defirous of fpiritual bleffings, and promifing to dif- 
penfe unto them the abundant influences of the*Holy 
Ghoft, which would fupport and refrefh them, and 
the benefits of which might extend to others con- 
ne6ted with them. This grand and encouraging ad« 
drcfs to the whole body of the people was proncuncedi 
pn the laft day of the feaft, when the congregation 
was probably larger than ufual i and it is. fuppofed, 

0^5 thau. 



i 



3^ SCRIPTURE CHARACTERS. 

th:it even then the officers of ju ft tee ilood before blii 
Oa that ddy it was cuftomary to fetch water freia 
the fountain of Siloam, and pour it on the altar wth 
greiit exiiUation, perhaps finging at the timCj '^Wiiii 
jayihali ye tiraw water out of the wells of filw* 
I ton */* It is thoughr, that upon this occafion jtfuf 
Hood on an eminence, and, exerting his voice ^m. 
htf might be heard by the furrounding muldtudos,^' 
reeled their attention to himfeJf, as imended to be 
re*[>rc Tented in that ceremony, as *' the fountain of 
Jiving: waters," communicating the moft plcntifiil 
fu Implies of grace to every thtrfty fouJ- 

1 o us, ^fo, the bleffing is affcredy the fame Vmi 
invitation is given. His ambailadors iiill a^^r^us, 
with limilar propofals, ** Ho, every one that thprfi* 
cth, come ye to the waters f/' 'I'he grand faurce^ 
to which wc arc referred, remains inexhauilble a 
evrr ; nor is there any thing to obftru<£t our acccfs to 
it^ except our own indifference or averfion to it. 
" Let him that is athirft, come: and whofoever wtllj 
let him take the water of life freely %." Have w« 
any ardent defires for thofe fpi ritual benefits, whidi 
Jefus confers ? It iG well, if we be truly fenfiblc of 




JISUS CHRIST. 

and tbcy were too careleis or too blgoftcd to r 

into furiher enquiries. The very men. wHa »- 
employed to apprehend him, and fome oJ 
diipofed to take him by force^ Dftened t. 
ril^5 under the ftrongcft impreiBons of ad mi 
reverence, they were unable to executt: theii puf 
They returned without their piifoiicr, a were wuu- 
ft rained to allege in excufe for not f lling their 
commiiEon* '^ "Never man fpake like tnis man," 
How eafily can the Lord God over-awe and con- 
found his enemies! " Surely, the wrath of man ftall 
praife ihee; the remainder of wrath ftialt thou re- 
firaiji *p" We have known many inftances of thofe, 
who, unaccountably to themfelves, have been fud* 
denly obliged to rclinquifh their defigns of violence, 
and even to plead the caufe of perfons, whom they 
had vowed to del^roy. Not a few have been brought 
to a ftate of penitence under a fermon, while they 
were feeking objeiSions, and forming malevolent in* 
tentions, againft the preacher. 

The Sanhedrim, however, were the more cxafpe- 
rated, and rcpreft;n£ed all, who favoured Jeius, as ig- 
norant, deluded, and infatuated wretches, not worthy 
to be regarded. Nicodemus attempted to moderate 
their rage; but he met with a fevere rebuke for the 
prudent advice, which he fuggefted ; and probably the 
council broke up in confufion. 

The evening approached, and Jcfus retired, not to 
indulge in fenfuality or indolence, nor even to obtain 
the neceflary refrefnment of deep. He withdrew to 
the mount of Olives, at feme little diftance from the 
city, where he might give vent to the ardent affec- 
tions of his foul in fecret prayer t« The night, there- 
fore, as well as the day, was devoted to the fervice of 
God, with a view, probably, to the falvation of fin- 
ners, for whom he was moft anxioufly concerned. 

* PikL Ixxvi. xOf t John vlii* i, &c« . 

0^6 Lc( 




JJ» SCRIPTURE 

their entire ignoraitcc of his Father^ as wall a* of bim. 
1'his was a bold charge in«ieecf ; aiKf, confidermg his 
fuu.it ion and their malevolence, it wa.9 wor*dcrfuJ» 
thftt they bore with him. But they were ftill uiv4cT 
an invilible reftraint; as the full tinnc for Iits btmg 
dcHvcfcd into ihcir hands was not arrived- He coii- 
tinucd, therefore^ to warn them^ that he ihouli 
fljorfly leave tbefn to ptnffi in their unbelief, and that 
then It would be too late for them to folicit an ad- 
mi ITion into his prefence. When they turned his verj 
warning into ridicule^ he declared more plaitily, t'cVL 
he defcendcd from the heavenly world j und properly 
belonged to it; but that they were entirely earthly iu 
their vicwF, affections, and purfuits, and that rejeii* 
ing him they would fmk under the curfe of their lias 
into fuia! deitrudlon. 

Ah I how foolifb as well as wielced is the conJut^ 
of thofe, who per ft ft in oppofing the Saviour, to their 
own inevitable ruinf They trifle av^ay their precious 
moments, in raifing one ptrtulant objeHion after an- 
otherj while they i\^nd on the brink of eternal mi- 
fery- Should wc not defirc to roufe them from iht^t 
lethargy? What means youf indifference, and yonf 



JESUS CHRI5T. 351 

taking htm off by the violent death of the crofs, they 
would be ftruck with a convidion of his divine cha- 
racter and high office; and he folemnly afTured them, 
that, though reje£ied and fcorned by finners, he was 
not deferted of his heavenly Father, but was the con- 
fiant^bjeS 0f his complacency and delight. O let 
us fear to indulge a captious difpofition, left we be 
given up to a reprobate mind! Is not this exalted 
Teacher " worthy of all acceptation?" Why, then, 
do we not fincerely and thankfully fubmit to his in- 
ftrudions ? Does not our perverfe oppofition evince 
a proud and an earthly mind? 

The felcmn declarations of Jefus, though generally 
defpifed, produced an evident impreffion on -feme of 
the company, who, therefore, profeflTed to regard him 
as the Meffiah. Addrefiing himfclf to thefe perfons, 
in particular, he exhorted them to yield a fteadfaft 
and perfevering attention to his word, and thereby to 
prove themfelves, beyond a doubt, his faithful dif- 
ciples; and he fubjoined a moft gracious promife, 
that in this way they (hould be enlightened with fuch 
a knowledge of his doArine, as would eftabiifh them 
in a ftate of glorious freedom. Yet even this gave of-, 
fence, fo much difpofed were moft of them to cavil 
at all his expreffions. His propofal of conferring 
freedom implied, that they had been in fervitude ; 
vrhich they refented as a grofs infult, boafting of their 
high privileges as the children of Abraham. Their 
proud and ignorant objedion, however, led him to 
fhew, that his meaning was fpiritual; and he replied 
to the following efFe6l: 

*^ Little as you may be aware of the melancholy 
trudi, I folemnly aflure you, that every one, prac- 
tifing iniquity, is a<^ually a (lave to fin, the worft of 
tyrants. So circumftanced, then, notwithftanding 
your defcent from Abraham, you are not the children 
of God, and may expe(5l to be excluded from 
houfliold. But I) his only begotten Sovv^ ^V« 



j;2 SCRIPTURE CHARACTERS. 

entitled to all the honours of his family, am em- 
powered lilcewiie to confer them upon you; fo that, 
if you receive the liberty which I beftow, you will be 
rei'cucJ from a ftate of miferable bondage, and the 
moll exalted privileges be fecured to you for ever. 
You boaft of your extraction from an illuftrious Pa- 
triarch ; but this cannot profit you, fince at this very 
moment you are fo incenfed at mv doilrine, as to be 
filled with murderous rage againft me. I declare to 
you the will of my Father, that which I know to be 
foy frpm the moft intimate acquaintance with his 
mind: and you alfo (hew by your deportment, what 
you have learned from your father.'* 

Here they interrupted him, ftill maintaining that 
they fprang from no other than Abraham. But 
Jcfus proceeded; — "Were you indeed the children 
of Abraham, you would tread in his fleps; but how 
widely do you differ fFom him in your fpirit and con- 
duct, while you are aiming at my life, for boldly af- 
lerting among you the truth of God? Your actions, 
correfpond with the original, from •vhTch ycu are tis* 
rived/' This infinuation they confidered as reproach^ 
fui to their character, and contended that God w3i 




JESUS CHRIST. 353 

you are, that you cannot bring any charge of guilt 
againft me: and,,. if you muft admit my integrity, 
why will you not credit my affcrtions ? Every one, 
who is born of God, and under the influence of his 
grace, will yidd a ferious attention and an unrcferved 
fubmiflion to the will of God, in whatever manner 
it be revealed: this, therefore, cannot be your cha- 
rafter, as you prove by your perverfe and obftinate 
unbelief." 

Thefe feverQ reproofs exafperated the Jews ftill 
more, fo that they replied with manifeft rancour, that 
they were now juftified in their fulpicions of him, as 
being an enemy to their religion, like the Samari- 
tans, and a<5ling under the inftigation of the devil. He 
repelled the blafphemous charge with Angular meek- 
nefs, obferving, that (o far from having connexions 
with Satan, he had uniformly (hewn a zealous regard 
to his Father's glory, which had brought their con- 
tempt upon him; that yet, though he might be indif- 
ferent about his own perfonal honour, there was One, 
who would aflert it to their entire condemnation. He 
added, alfo, the moft gracious and folemn protefta- 
tions, for the encouragement of the penitent, that the 
fincere believer in him (hould never tafte the bitter- 
nefs, or come under the power, of death. The pre- 
cious promife, no lefs than his reproofs, incenfed 
them, and confirmed them in the perfuafion, that he 
was aftuated by a diabolical influence. They groii.ly 
mifapprehended him, as if none of his followers ftiould 
fufFer even the diflblution of the body, and infolently 
afked, what privilege or dignity he claimed, beyond 
the ancient prophets. 

He anfwered, ^' If my claims were unfupported, 
they might faPely be defpifed; but I appeal to the at- 
teftations of that God, to whom you profefs to ftand 
in a peculiar relation. Alas ! your pretences are falfe 
and prefumptuous : on the contrary, I pofiefs the 
moft perfcdl knowledge of him, and yield ^ cowfta 



JESUS CHRIST, 355 

deflltute of the truth. Probably, the moft unreafun- 
able prejudices will fo prevail, as grea:ly to obftruct 
their ufefulnefs. Their plaineft e^-preflions mny be 
mirunderftood, or wilfylly diilortt:d ; the tnoft mali* 
cious charges may be ur^ed aigainft them, and their 
charai5ters blackened by the bafeft afperfion?. All this 
may be done, even among the people, for whofe eter- 
nal welfare they are labouring with the mofl generous 
and unwearied aiTiduity. But let them ftudy, and 
endeavour to copy, this divine exemphr. Like the 
btefled Jefus^ it will become them to Aand unmoved 
againft all the affa-ults of ignorance, pride, and envy, 
to obviate miftakes, and inculcate right do^rine?^ 
with patlsnce and forbearance. Yet, confiftently 
with this gcntlenefs of fpirit, they rtioyld alfo warn 
the impenitent, and without fear or referve denounce 
« the terrors of the Lord," They (hould reprove 
and admonifh, not with raftinefs or malevolencej but 
with courage and fidelity, and, while they pluinly re- 
prefent the ftate and character of the ungodly, affec- 
tionately befeech them '* to flee from the wrath to 
come." 

Would to God, that oppofition to Chrifl had been 
confined to the Jews ! Are there none among us, 
who in a fimilar way refift the truth ? How vile their 
afFeftions! How wretched their condition! They 
may boaft of liberty, but " they are the fcrvants of 
corruption." They may fuppofe, that they are doing 
God fervice, and be ready to demand a recompenfe 
from him, even while they fulfil the purpofes of Sa- 
tan, and prove thcmfelves to be totaAy under his in- 
fluence. They may pretend to a peculiar penetration 
and difcernment, when they are deluded by " the fa- 
ther of lies," and, through the afcendancy of carnal 
principles, " cannot hear" the pure do6trine of the 
Gofpel. Let us pray, that we may not be given up 
to- fuch infatuation as this. 

Dp. 



i 



358 SCRIPTURE CHARACTERS. 

iix^d on for the relief of Mofes in his office*. Thefe 
alio he divided into pairs, that they might ftrengthcn 
rach other's hands ; and, upon their departure, he 
gave them inftru6tions fimilar to thofe, which he had 
delivered to the Apoftles. This appointment, pro- 
bahly, took place before his attendance at die feaftof 
tabernacles, laft mentioned. 

He addrefied them to the following purpofe: 
" Unite your fervent prayers, for more labourers to 
be fcnt out into the very extenfive field, which lies 
before you> that the harveft may be gathered in; for, 
though a large addition is now made, there is fuffici- 
cnt work to call for a further increa(e« And, as none 
(liould prcfume to intrude thcmfelves into this em- 
ployment, your application fhould be to the great Lord 
of the harvefl, who alone can difcern the proper pcr- 
fons, and furnifli them with all neceflary preparations 
for the facred fundVion. You go forth under my di- 
rections " as lambs among wolves," in the fece of 
furious adverfaries, w ho will endeavour to harafs and 
deftroy you. But commit yourfelyes to the care of 
divine rrovidence; nor take wi^h you any fupplies 
for yoLir tempo r:il (upporr. Like men in hafle, who 




JSSUS CHRIST. 359 

to eftablifh his kingdoqn. Whoever may defpife -your 
meiFage, leave them not till you have folenanly warned 
them of their fin and danger; fince aggravated ruin 
will come upon them, for their contempt of mercy. 
'J^he curfe of an incenfed God awaita the inhabitants 
of thofe cities, which have fcornfully reje£led my mi- 
niftry; and, however exalted their privileges have 
been, they fli4ll finally periih with a much more tre- 
mendous deftruAion, than even thofe abandoned 
places, Sodom, Tyre, and Sidon, which have already 
felt the weight of divine vengeance. Thus,.alfts 
I fhall confider myfelf, and my Almighty Father 
likewife, either asregaraed or contemned by the per<* 
fons, among whom you fhall difcharge your em- 
bafTy; and upon their condu£l towards you their 
everlailing falvation or perdition will depend." 

What eager foltcitude, what a generous concern 
did Jefus difcover for the welfare of mankind ! What 
various methods he devifcd, to fave immortal fouls ! 
He fent out, we o*bferve, a numerous company of 
harbingers and heralds, proclaiming pardon and peace; 
0nd he himfelf took one laborious journey after ano- 
ther, for the fame benevolent purpofe. Nor was his 
love lefs confpicuous, when he warned the defpifers 
of his Gofpel, that the moft tremendous woes were 
coming upon them; for he poured out his heart in 
deep diftrefs on their account. Still he prefides as 
Head over his Church j and ftill, with a view to ref- 
cue fmners from eternal mifery, he raifes up and em- 
ploys many ambafTadors in his fervice, to whoni he 
•* commits the word of reconciliation." And, as it 
feems moft probable, that he will promote the caufe 
of truth and righteoufnefs in the earth by means of 
faithful and evangelical minifters, we fhould unite 
our prayers to him for their increafe, that by their 
teftimony his name may be declared from town to 
town, and from one kingdom to another. Where he 
fends his mefTengers, we are encouraged to hope, 

that 



mticb depends upon it. ** If is 
you^ becaufc it is your life f /* 
to fjive you^ it will aggravate 



for )^ur 



Thafc, who ** watch 

witncfs cither for you 

your rccc[>tion of them. They' 

livef^ of their adorable Lord andV™ 

fltordy arlfc tovItiJlcatc his own cat 

you meet hitn, if you trc*it hisi^ 

"whh fcorn or in<ltftLT€ncc I 

The fcventy difdpTcs returned 
about the fcill of tabern^icles h iti: 
thdr mhiifhy. They appearxrd to hi 
ing fucccedcd beyond their cxpcdlatii; 
their grateful furprtfe, becatife the % 
fubje(5t to them, as if nothing, from i 
be able to iland againft them, Jdl 
triuinphcc! in thtr dowfifpJ of S;<t;inj 
proving the punlfhmeot inflicted on 
gina! apoftafy, but as fore fee ing the i 
rrftand Icinx^dam in thi« wi>,£hr.*- 



\ beirs of heaven, than to poBh& an aUblute domi-. 
•1 over the infernal fpirits. 
f iDn diat occafion, the Saviour exulted in his hearty 
broke fordi into expreffiohs of grateful fati$fac-- 
ly-'from the proTpeA of what thde feeble infiru- 
. Its ihould accomplifl], though oppofed by perfons 
Jtconfummate wifilom and prudence. Buthowpro* 
Hind the myfteryl Salvation is revealed to thoTe, 
^jil^O ane weak and of as little account, as babes, 
Ij^liAs' men of admired abilities and high rank in lifi$ 
Remain in ignprance and contempt of it. In this in- 
Ibnitable di^enfation, Jefus acquiefced and rejoiced. 
!f1)e Lord God is a righteous Sovereign; . and, under 
piriiill conviction of his equity^ we fhould fubmit im- 
picidy to his appointments, tHough we fee not the 
mfons of them. It fhould fuffice us, that ^^ fo it 
jbemed good in his fight.*' 
; Jefus took that opportunity, aUb, to direA the re- 

£Lrd of his difciples to himfelF) as united with the Fa- ^ 
er in the grand economy of grace, as poiTeffing an 
extent of power and underftanding, far beyond the 
reach of any creature, and as the only One, who can 
declare the nature and will of God. Then like wife, 
to excite their thankfulhefs for being acquainted with 
him, he congratulated them, apart from the reft, be- 
caufe they were favoured with higher privileges and 
clearer difcernment in divine things, than many of the 
moft eminent charaders in old times, prophets and 
kings, who were beloved of God. 

And are not our obligations immenfe, if we " have 
obtained like precious faith," and can on folid ground 
conclude, that our " names are written in the book 
of life?" For, " how great things hath God done for 
us!" We need not envy thofe, who were invefted 
even with the apoftolical commiffion and n:iiraculous 
powers. That grace, which is infinitely more va- 
luable, i.s beftowed upon us. Our diftinguifhed feli- 
city appears the more remarkable, when we obferve 
VoL.m. R that 



In darknefs that tbcy may par lakej 
by being *' called into marvellou 
their eyes may be bleffcd^ in behi 
excellency ol^ our Redeemer, 

During feme part of our Lord^ 
vcbiy »pr>n their return, it fhouM fe^ 
fur rounded by a large company, 
inras a certain lawyer (one of ihoCt: 
expounded the law of Mofes), whc 
^Mth much felf coafec|uercc and fec^ 
Jelws, and propofed a qucftion to hie 
|ard> but defigoirsg to involve him 
He begged to be informed, wh;it he 
attainment of eternal life* The fubjei 
porrant above all others; and, had ■ 
been afkcd with an humble, teachable] 
fus would noc have refufcJ a dire^ 
f^ver. But, as he knew the proud aji^ 
per of the man,| he replied in a 
tend to humble or file nee him. Hi 
the dem^ndii of the \a.\v (m ' 



JEIUS CHRKT, 363 

ut thee: but the leaft deviation or dcfcik will ex* 
2 thee to condemnation ♦." 
:n the fame manner it may be proper to treat all 
h perfons, as value themfelvcs on their fuppofed 
KJnefs. This method feems calculated to convince 
m of their ignorance and prefumption ; fo that the 

may ferve ''as a fchoolmafter to bring them unto 
rift, that they may be Juftified by faith t«" We 
^ if your hopes are built on your own duties, are 
I aware, hew much is required of you? Have you 
er failed of loving God fupremely and fervently, 
h all your heart, foul, ftrength, and mind ; or your 
rhbour as yourfelves? If thefe difpofitions have 

their conftant and full influence upon you, from 
iT earlieft moments to this prefent hour, you need 

implore mercy, or be indebted to the Saviour: on 

ground of juftice, according to '^ the law of 
-ks," you may cxpe<3: and even claim eternal life. 
: does not this, very reprefentation awaken your 
s, rather than flatter your pride, or confirm your 
1 confidence? 

A^ hat effect was produced upon the Scribe? He 
; neither humbled nor filenced; but, ftill defirous 
Hand upon his own defence, and perhaps in order 
evade conviiftion, he propofed another queftion, 
Vho is my neighbour?" From this circumftance 
: Lord took-occafion to confute the erroneous no- 
1, then generally prevalent, that neighbours in- 
ded only particular friends, and fuch as wtre fitu- 
d near to each other, or connected by the bonds of 
dred or religion. The fenfe of the law was coor 
>d within a narrow compaf&, while it was thought, 
t perfons of this defcription only have any claim. 
>n our benevolence. But Jefus (hewed, that we 

indifpeulably required to extend our utmoft kind- 
's to all our fellow-creatures in diftrefs, of what« 

• See Gal iil. 10^x3. \ ^A^ 

R 2 tNta 



10 Mrreft rrerf reader. 
A Jrw ti reprcfemcd a: 




Of robbtfv 'F'vo am of 

«e£sQf hit flttferr; ju>i^ 
icfaed4 naaacr, IkottU 

relkt BotaSaawnni 
oriiet ^fan I© hitv tud 

J6OK9 todf PDfgcttiiig A^ €>d\o%j% c 
the tuo iatm$i emit to his affi(Li 
-culiar ifienlKm to cbe raie, niad( 
for iiif fopport* Etidi a coodu^ 
proof or DCiiei'dicoce, £v 
vat eonSniiiedtOjdmtr^ d«e 
iefc dMf be had flirwii bimicif 

Tkr proper ippHcatlon is 
each of tts ^ vdl »s to the 




JESUS CHRIST. S^S" 

ced upon all men as his neighbour?, and treated 
m wi h the fame kindnefs, which he (hould expe£l 
himfelf in fimilar circumftances? How iictle do 
refemble our great Pattern, who has exhibited the 
ft extenfive and difinterefted benevolence! The 
rd Jefus " remembered us in our low eftate," 
, though we were *' finners and enemies," not 
y ftretched out his arm to refcue us from mifery, 
gave himfelf a facrifice, and \' died for the un- 
Uy *•" May the contemplation of this love ex* 
? us to " love one another, with a pure heart fer- 

ulyt!" 

At Bethany, about two miles diftant from Jerulu- 
1, lived an amiable family, to which our Lord 
ms to have been much attached; Probably upon 
return from the feaft of tabernacles, he called at 
s village, to vifit Lazarus and his fiilers, Martha 
i Mary, where he was received with great afFcc- 
n. The interview is mentioned, chiefly that w« 
ty remark the different kinds of attention, which 
ic two pious women paid to Jefus. Mary placed 
rfelf at his feet, like an humble fchoiar, with an 
ger defire to imbibe his important inftrudlions. 
It Martha, to whom perhaps* the chief care of their 
meftic affairs belonged, difcoVered her regard to 
n, by her folicitude to provide a proper entertain- 
»nt for him ; and, being too intent upon that ob- 
% (he complained with fome marks of peevifhnefs. 
It her fifter did not help her. Jefus, ther^efore; 
th much tendernefs reproved Martha for her un- 
ifonable and immoderate anxiety about the various 
►ncerns of the family, or the preparing of fuch ac- 
>mm6dations, as were trifling, if not needlefey and 
the fame time folemnly reminded her, that, while . 
any lower matters engaged her attention and dif- 
aScd her thoughts, " one thing," was o^ ^^0^>\\» 

* Rom, V. 6— 'JO. j^ ^ Ptt.\. i^» 

R 3^ tww^Sssj 




3M icmzmrEE cHASAirrEtr. 

aeccfit^ u^dttt all iidien fcovU gWepbceGoi 
Oa ltii> ffoaad be cotamc^cd fhc c^od of Mar/t 
to be more ■^ ^ricual^jr mtiKkd,** is 
^ tbe QpportuEiitT fo l&er own gneatcft ad-, 
*He ikdbf cd, tb^fore, tkit Mar j had aSed 
wi&tf in preferrijig **tiic go&i part,'* becaufe iris 
ticcfieiit in ttkM, and in&ildy more valuabk tban 
3II evth!/ pofE^ons, zs bditg fe^urc and inviolable, 

Tbc example as well as tn€ obfervatians of Jefus ^ 
VIHKI ihb caccafioD will furjiifti folid inilruC^iDn, We 
IhaiiU learn from him m ih^*- the mHuer.ce of our 
relteton, as well in our common iritercourfe wltb 
each ocher, ai in ihe leinple and do:fef, in every 
botiJe, where he was aJmiCied, lie deUvered his hea- 
f cnlj dodTind, ^^ bis mouth (peaking wtf^om, md 
tis tongue talking of judgment *." And Ihail we be 
VovrilJiGg or aib:kmed to tncroduce any mcfition of 
our fp ritual concerns^ wfierever we maybe? Horn 
do we apfwar to have the mind of Jefus, if 6mnc 
things eogage no part of our private converfstion? 
Do not fonie plead tfie cares of a family, the hurry of 
hufmeff, and an attention to company^ as if thefe were 
of the firft confequence, or as if God were to be re- 
garJed, and the interefts of the foul confulted^ cnlj? 
jn the ftcoad place? What> then, has Jefus taught 
yuuf He declares, *' One thing is needful;" buc 
how many things are fo in your elltmation! Thar, 
which he enjoins yoa, as important above all othefs, 
h either totally forgotten^ or thro ft aftde^ that you 
may he more at lei fare to purfue that, which is of 
Uttle worth, and cannot long be fecured to you. 
Even fome pious perfons are much obftrutled in their 
" Tritual progrefi through an excefllve anxiety about 
sir fecular affairs- They do not, thcrcf'jrc, as they 
jht, glonfy God by bringing forth fruit abundantly, 
;.enjoy the comforts of religion in them* 




_ J 



[ 'filvcf • ^ But the greater pitt of mankind feetm «iv- 
^ .tireljr oirhal*) for they propofe ' no higher objed: to 
<;t)iemfeLves» than to gratify. dieir animal nature; at if 
r ^ the one thing oeedful'* were to make the moft of 
P- the pcefent UTe, to eat, drink, and be merry, A 
\ sealous. regard to reitgion is condemned and deriddl, 
\ .at ^extreme folly, though it be' the trueft .wifilom. 
The fervant of Jefut, who is obferved to ^ fit at hit 
\: feet and bear bit word," is complained of at defertiifg 
I . liie poft. But bit divine MiiAer wiH pidtod bit caiife 
1^ to ihe c^nfufion of his opporfencs; and, when they 
If frail be for ever Separated from all that was dear to 
p- d»ai, he' will poffirfs a treafurc and a happine& in 
^ .the hea;rent> ^ which fliall not be taken away from 
:Wm-" 
. On imother occafion, and in a different place^ 
wbere Jefut bad reeired, he vn$ requefted by one of 
: bit difeiples, at the conclufion of bis devotions, to 
leach them to pray, as John alfo had taught his fbilow- 
trs *• It cannot be fuppofed, that tney had con* 
tinued (b long with him m ignorance or negled of 
this duty: for they mud have learned the ncceflity of 
k both from his example and his exhortations. But 
they now defired Ibme particular inftruSions in it,^ 
perhaps fome form of prayer to be delivered to them ^ 
atnd n is fuppofed, that the moft eminent Jewiih maf- 
fers, as. well as John the Baptift, '^ave their refpe£iive 
fcholarsand adherents a fliort model for their worfhip. 
In compliance with their wifhesy then, he repeated, 
with certain trifling alterations, that brief bu»t compre- 
fcenfivc addrefs to God,, with which he had furni(faed 
them before-, as a direftory to them in their devo- 
tions ; and now he appointed it to be ufed as a ftated 
form t- 

It has been already obferved, that it might be adapt* 
cd to the peculiar iituation of the difeiples, and irw 

« Luke xi. 1—1.3^ t St«Sed. lOw.- 

R 4 tei 



SCUmntB CSAKACTBSt# 

lootrlbrtdBttiiiie; but thtt^ astheoprdkniV 
: Sikibk for Chrillnitt in all ages and diatm-, 
aces it tsaj IBD be retained with great proprief]^ 
boik iQ poblic and priYats worfliips tbouefaL it could 
not be meaot to cxdode odier petitions. ^Ik cpia* 
pefitioa b woodcffU and excelleht^.beycMid any coin* 
snendadcQ vhich we can ofier. We call upon tliofe^ 
who defire to ferre God accq)taSl)rt to ftudjr the fiiB 
fenle of all its parts diftinfilj^ and endoivoiu: Soentor 
into die true ^rit of it, Confider,^ how ran pn^. 
You are here taught to approad^ to God With ^ffisfiioa : 
and confidence as to your Father^ yet with profeand' 
reverence as to hios who ^ hath prepared his throos' 
in die heavens.'* His name Ihould oe dear to yoni '. 
and you (hould implore grace (at odiers, that it ou^ ; 
be known and fimAificd in every idace»-requefti|ig 
alfO| that he would eftaUilh his kinKdom in ri^ite« 
oufoefs by the everlafBng Gofpel, and that all the io« 
habitant.^ of the earth may unite with thofe of heaveoi 
in yielding him a cheerful and perfed • obedience. 
Looking up in f^itk, you muft afk your daily fupport 
from him. You muft confcfs to him your numerous 
and aggravated offences, humbly feeking his forgivc- 
ncf?, and declaring your readinefe to pardon every 
injury, received from your fellow-creatures. Yet, 
as you will be conilantly expofed to freCh tempta- 
tions, entreat him to ftrengthen and preferv^ you by 
the power of his Spirit, and to refcue you out of ths 
hands of your enemy. 

'Siirh arc the fupplications, which you are taught 
I but you ihould pray, as perfons in earneft, 
I unwUling to take a denial. For our Lord 
ttSy that) as one man prevails upon another, 
y argument or through the influence of friend* 
it by his inceffant folicitation, you alfo, by the 
; and importunity of your requefts, may havi 
with obtain his bleffing. The pro- 

aI u" fuccefs are abfolute and invio- 

lable. 



JESUS CHRIST. . 369 

iable. No inftance can be produced, of any one con- 
tinuing to wait upon God with unwearied diligence 
and ardent devotion, who was finally rejeded. You 
ire encouraged to expetSt a favourable anfwer, from 
God's parental difpofition. If you feel the aftedlion 
of a f.ither, what would you not grant to your be- 
loved offspring, who earneftly entreat your affiftance ? 
You, indeed, who are " evil," may eafily be warped 
from your duty, under the influence of corrupt paf- 
(ions; yet you cannot refufe to relieve your children. 
And (hall God vvith-hold anything really good, from 
thofe who fend up their unceafing petitions to him? 
No: he will give them his Holy Spirit, which will 
" fulfil all the good pleafure of his goodnefs.'' Ah! 
how cold, how lifelefs are your prayers, if the duty 
be at all attempted ! Shall you complain, or wonder, 
that you fucceed no better? Will you not be roufcd 
to greater fervour? But, if you " reftrain prayer be- 
fore God,'* and call not upon his name, your guilt 
is extreme; and his tender mercies, in waiting to bo 
gracious, will render you the more incxcufable. 

It may be difHcult, ncr is it of any real import^ 
anc^, to afccrtain the ex.icl coniiedtion of the fol- 
lowing narrative. But at another time, when fc- 
fiis was delivering his inftruclioiis to the peopb, her 
received an invitation to dinner from a Pharifo'.-, 
which he immediately accepted with his ufual affabi- 
lity *. It fnould feem from the fequel, and from the 
manner of our Lord's addrefs, that a fcheme was 
formed to enfnare him, and that for this purpofe a 
large company of thefe captious adverfaries was col- 
lecTed together. But their malicious proje61: was 
baffled s and they met with a moft fevcre reprehen- 
fion for their odious hypocrify, and tlie numerous in- 
confiftcncies of their condudt. 

-* Luke xi. 37, &c». 

R 5 Jcfus 




- Jcfi9 fit down to c^c vttbout obierving the ukA 
co^monj of wifluag lis hands: wben tbe maft^r of 
t^ koatt wiu> oanonrly watcKpd bim, fecrctl}/ con- 
dqniMd him fix tke ncgted. Our Lord was aware 
of die MtSBoOf tlwiigb it was not avowed^ snj 
tfacfdbre he took tbe opportunity, not To muck of 
▼indioiting luiiilelf».as aiexpoQng tbe folly in^dJOi- 
■lutatioii of the Phariiees in general. Many were 
Aen before hiin, and yet with remarkable pUitmfls 
-and courage he reprared them, while be detei^ed cbcir 
avarice and c^ipr^oiii tbcir pride iznd m^Vigmty of 
heart. He pointed ouc thfir abfurdity, in psiying 
ibch icmpolous attention to external puriHotionSi 
While dicir minds were filled with fcheraies of rapine 
apd various kinds of wackedncfs. He exhorted tbeni, 
therefore, to confider, that the God, who made them, 
would not be iatisfied with any outward obfcrvancesi 
and that their great €iqe^ fhould be to approve tkctn- 
fclves to him. He urged cbem^ alfo, to rej>ounce 
their covetoufncfs and cruel cxacUonSj and to be kid 
and liberal to the poor; tn which way their food 
would be much more e^edlually fanclihed to thciDt^ 
than merely by the cleanfing of their hands. 

Their danger was not to be concealed ; and there- 
fore, that they might no longer flatter thcmfelve^, he 
adJrefled them in language the moft authoritative anJ 
mrjeftic, and denounced againft them one tremen- 
dous wo upon another, for their negledi of real and in- 
ward holincfs while they boafted of their formalities, 
for their oftentation and ambition, and for their egre- 
gious h)'pocrify, by which fo many were deceived to 
thpir utter ruin. 

s having included the Scribes alfo in one of his 
«, a pe'fon then prefent, belonging to that 
3n, exprcfledfome degree of warmth,, that tbeir 
lould be fo fcverely ccnfured. JBut, neither 
; their anger nor courting their favour, hepro- 
iir 'on them for enjoining fo many bur- 

denibme 



JESVS CHTtrST* Jff't 

denibme rites upon the people, by their abfurd inter* 
pretations and traditions, ^^hile they themfelves ob*' 
ilerved not their own precepts* They pretended a 
regard for the ancient prophets^ and built the tombs, 
of the men, whom their fathers had flain^ Bur^ as; 
they inherited the cruel and perf^cuting difpofition of 
their anceftors, they were convidied of the grofleft 
bypocrify ; and the very fepulchrefy which they ered- 
ed, witnefled againft them. Jefus, therefore, know- 
ing what was in their hearts, and what terrible con« 
fequences would follow froni their vio^sftt-'Oppofitioa 
to the Apoftles and preachers of the Gofpel, folemnly 
declared, that God, iii righteous judgment, would 
fljortly reckon with that generation, and bring th6 
mod awful defolations upon, them, for all the blood 
of his martyred faints, which had been ftied from the 
foundation of the woi'ld. Thefe perverfe expound- 
ers of the law had to anfwer like wife for the gene-, 
ral ignorance of the people ; for, by their falfe though- 
fpecious comments, they locked up the grand treafury 
of divine knowledge, and prevented others from re- 
ceiving the Saviour; which was a high ag«;ravation 
of their own guilt, and for which the curfe of God 
refted upon them. - 

Such were the reproofs of Jefus, fuited, no doubt, 
to the (tate and temper of his hearers. It is not for 
us, who pofTcfs not his information or authority, to 
thunder out anathemas in the fame manner. But his 
minifters, furely, (hould learn from him to be bold and 
ftrenuous in rebuking fm, and to declare, without 
refp':6l of perfons, that " the wrath of God cometh 
on the children of difobedicnce *." Very frequent 
occafions call for language of this kihd: for how 
numerous is the company of grofs offenders, as well 
as ceremonious hypocrites ! Shall the fervant of the 
Lord, then, keep filence, or debafe his office by 

# Col. iii. 6. 

R 6 finooth 



3/2 SCmiPTPM CHAKACrrHi. 

ftffooth ?tid B^t^miim iJ^fies f No : <^ whether men 
wilJ bcair, or wbetBCf ibe^ will forbear,*" he muft 
^ cry akMid lod (pare not,"' whik lie faithfully ^^ (hews 
tbem dkcir tnol^rcfioQ.'' The event rnuH be Idt 
to God. 

Wtut efFod bid otif Lord's addrefs upon his pmud 
and captious auditors r Their indignation was kindled, 
and Y^ tbey ictKw oot liow to vent it* Theyfet 
upon him w ith fury, tirging him to fpemk on various 
fubjei^, only that they might bring an accufetion 
igainfl him. But fucb was his wilcioni, that their 
themes could not prevail. Their cafe ftands as an 
admonition to future ages; and from them we Ihould 
be learned to beware of formality, and of oppofition 
to Cbrift or his people. How terrible the condem- 
nation of thofe, who are incenfed by the very word, 
which fhould humble them ! *' Wherefore, as the 
Hoiy Ghoft faith, To day, if ye will hear his vcicc, 
harden not jmui hearts ♦*'' 

* Hth* III. 7, t* 




^^^^^ 



f'\ . JESUS CHRKT. 

y •* - ..'■"■"■ •'''■' 

SIC T. 25.^ • 



Jifuswanui his difsipks rf hPf^^fi ^^ cfiWardict^^ 
deUvini thiparaUi $f ibt rich fotl-^gave CMtisns 
ogaiftft umrlmm^i^^xbirtid U fripari for bis cmt^ « 
ing^oritsii vtdtnt perfecutionsr^pnacbid the »#- 
^W^ rf, r^ff^tfiyr/, 9n tbi maffacr$ ef tbi Gafikanr 
'"^fcrifia tbi harrsn^g^tne-'^bealid art infirm wt^ 
'. man on tbi fabbatb^-^JbiWid tbat nuiny wiU hi Jbut 
outofbiavin^^bis miffagi to Hirody and lamnSatiom 
for jirufakm* 

The condufion of the preceding fe<£Hon repre- 
fented our Lord in the midft of malicious enemies, 
at the houfe of a Pharifee, where he was invited to 
dine. During his continuance there, fo great was 
the cagernefs of the people without to hear his in- 
ftrudiions, that an inimenfe company, confifting of 
many thoufands, aflembled together, and even tram- 
pled on each other, from an earneft defire to be near 
him ♦. To gratify their wifhes, therefore, he went 
out, and, in the prefence of them all, gave a folemn 
charge to his difciples, that they might not be mifled 
or difcouraged by the opponents, with whom he had 
been contending. He cautioned them to beware of 
that dinimulation, which he had juft condemned in 
the Pharifees, and which would operate in them like 

^ Luke xiif i> Ac* 




CBAKACTXKlV 



influence anNmd. It 

garb of reliffloiit and iDii» 

iAapoabr&naity. But what would 

As k casnt io^iofe upon God^ fo that 

is A ^ cnjafi «kB« fi muH fat p«Uiflied tt> tk 
wbole Krii: ftr crar fecret cbine flull be bnng^ 
tti E^^ A&! bow difecDt will manj chanAcfS 
ibeD appear ! Ulot diflionrfy» treachery, and op* 
preffioo^ vbc mbc«v aai icvcnge^ what Jewdnefi^ 
and in c e m pe ao c e w2 be dUcovefcd, which are.nnr 
cooccaled fron huanaa ohftrratioiH UP not doked im» 
dBraftewefpiecr! Whoinlfland tbeteftoftiiil 
abntttBTL ihottv ^^BO nov poncn no more OBuf a 
fMMil oui&£r^ wa tlm be the obycas of cooteayt 
acM <ibaofrcBce'« 

TW dUctpfes hai fen ftmetlHW^ of dir furioH^ 

poMioBi Cv new inQdraaa advcnanesn which mriift 

ha«« had a bad c^Rrd- open their mindr, ih detemiig 

tben fnok a boy pfafeSoa of the Go^; Jefus, 

ti::cr:::rr, nii> i.xhortoJ them to maintain a holy firnv- 

nr:"? :.*. 'I'l^T ii-.irence to his caufc:— ^ You, mjr 

thcnis n^.'-:\ piTipofe to meet with cruel perfecution; 

ar.i in :..ch i \cT\ic^ it will be di:luuiourabIe for you 

to d:«j^: thocc« who icay retift jou, however great 

and poi»-c:nil :hey may be. Ycu cannot iufier much 

or long from Lhcir rage. They may, poffibly, be 

permitred to take away the life of your bodies ^ but 

their malicious etfons can extend no further* Let 

the Lord God Omnipotent be the t>le objed of your 

fear; for his indueocc reaches to the eternal worlds 

and, if he be your enemy> he can render you roifer* 

»1 your bodies <«nd your fouls for ever. 

ielves to his care,, and he wxU provide 

mt fupport. He, who forgetteth not the 

jrihlcfe as they may feem, is conffcandy 

luteft concerns; £br ^^ the ve^ 

-e all numbered." But, what- 

U^gjis yott may lofc for your at- 

tachtncat 



JESUS CHWST. 375 

tfchraent to me, I, your Lord and Mafler, ivhom 
you arc not ^Ox^med to follow, will acknowledge, 
approve, and honour you before that glorious aflem- 
Uage of Angels, who (ball attend me in the da/ of 
my future appearance. Then, the perfons, who have 
dkeclined an open profelHon of. my name, through 
cowardice, or other worldly motives, (hall, in the 
fame public manner, be difowned and rejected, as 
bafe and deteftable charafters. They, indeed, who 
have refifted me, may yet obtain forgivenefs ; but the 
cafe of thofc, who continue to defpife the multiplied 
teftimonies of the Holy Ghoft, and bla^hemoufly 
afcribe hie opeiations to the influence of Satan, is re-i 
medilefs and defperate, their fin unpardonable. The 
divine Agent, whom they treat with impious fcorn^ 
will afford you his moft gracious direilion and fup- 
port in your fevereft trials. Depending on his aid^ 
you may cheerfully face your perfecutors, when you 
are called to anfwcr at their tribunals; for he will in- 
fpire you with wifdom and courage, and furnifh you 
with words and arguments to plead my caufe, fo that 
you (ball never be confounded before them." 

Such were the Saviour's exhortations to his ancient 
difciples ; and furely of us alfo he requires the fame 
fteadfaftnefs of faith, the fame contempt of the rage 
and threatenings of men, the fame un(baken adher- 
ence to him and bis fervice. Have we any reafon 
for dread, while the God of heaven is engaged to fuf- 
tain, prote(^ and comfort us, and a crown of glory 
is fecured to us at the end of our warfare? Let thole 
tremble for the confequences, who, in oppofing Chrift, 
undertake to " fight againil God." For, however 
his patience may l^ar long with thqm, at laft he will 
ariie to execute judgmenr, when they (ball be driven 
away, " as chaff before the wind," and overwhelmed, 
with everlafting horror a.nd defpair. 

After this addrefs, Jefus was defired by one of the 
company, to perfuade his brother to agree to a fair dU 



37& SCRIPTURE CHARAGTER5. 

vifion of their paternal inheritance. This our Lord 
declined, as being a matter totally foreign to his cha- 
radter and office. His grand defign was to draw men*s 
attention to their fpiritual concerns; and therefore 
he took occafion from this difpute between the bro- 
thers, to warn his hearers againft covetoufnefs, one 
great caufe of contentions In the world. He ob- 
served, that an eager folicitude to procure temporal 
ptjjicinons is abfurJ, fince the Jargeft propmj will 
not prc^Iong our lives, or render them truly com- 
forCnhle* 

He Qiewt'd the fatal tendency of an immoderaw 
attachment to pre fc tit things, by a very ilrii:in<r |^- 
rable. A perfon is defcribedj as receiving a valfatif- 
mentation of fortune by the fertility of his ground, 
and intent upon making the moft of his fubftanc^ 
He propofed to erect more capacious granaries, in 
which his increafin^ ftore might be Secured, and flat- 
tered himfdf with the profpc^t of many years of af- 
fluencev eafe, and fenfual indulgence. " Having at- 
tained the fummit of his wiflies, he determirid to 
retire from the hurry of bufmefs, and enjoy himfetf 
in whatever his^ wcaJih could ftirnifti- Who would 




JESUS CHRIST. 377 

s of others; and who at the fame time are at no 
ins to obtain the far more valuable riches of divine 
ice. 

Jefus proceeded to caution his difciples againft an 
3rdinate attention to worldly circumftances, as be- 
y inconfiftent with the true fpirit of the Gofpel: 
• it implies a diftruft of God, and a comparative 
gle£l of eternal things. On this occafion he re- 
ated fome fentiments, which he had before advanced 
his fermon upon the mount ; while he fpake to the 
lowing purpofe. " I charge it upon you, not to 
Iraft your minds with any fecular cares, not even 
r the neceflary provifion of food or raiment. Will 
•t He, who gave you life, fuppl^ you with the pro- 
r means of fupporting it? The great God fuftains 
e ravens, without any contrivance on their parts: 
d will he forget you, who are fo much more va- 
able in his fight r Befides, your utmoft folicitude 
uld not efFeSually fecure to you the leaft advan- 
ce : it could not add, in any degree, to your ftature 
your age. Look, alfo, upon the inanimate world^ 
d obferve God's minute attention to the very lilies, 
hich, without their labour, he has decked with glo- 
bus ornaments,, fer furpaffine the richeft attire of 
e moft exalted monarchs. Shall he, then, beftow 
ch a profufion upon the (hort-lived flowers, and 
>t furnifli you with fuitable apparel ; fince you are 
e objedls of his choice and love, though you are fo 
ckward to truft him? It is incongruous to your 
laracSer, to be intent upon fuch trifling concerns, 
id perplexed about your temporal fupport. This, 
deed, may be the cafe with thofe, who know not 
od: but you fhould leave the care of yourfelves 
ith the God of heaven, who is your Father, and 
ho, as he perceives, can readily beftow, what is 
?edful for you. Only be you vieoroufly prefEng to- 
ards his kingdom of glory; and, in addition to bet- 
r bleifings, you (ball poiTefs the thvti^% ol ^^\^ 



{ft SCRIPTURE CHARACTERS, 

iK^hlch (hall be eKped'rent for yon, Iiv t!re profpeSof 
that kingdom go forth with coura^ey feeble and iJf-p 
Jencf lefb a< you may fet m j for though you arc a ^Mirlic 
i<>ck," yoar Faiiitr has decreed, and will rfjoiccjio 
fix you in that bUfs^ful Inheritance^ to which, there- 
forCi he will conduct you. Tins hope, furely, wi-[ 
render you indiftcrent about your worldly propenj, 
and difpole you to part with it, if God fhall call }tNi 
to the trial, that you may lay it out upon tbepwrj 
for you ftiouM be chiefly foiicitous to f^curt to your- 
ielves thofe trcaftires, of which you cannot be (i^ 
prlvcd, and which will pfeferve their value and to 
luftre for evermore* Thefe alone merit the affec- 
tions of y ur hearts; and if irideed you have cliofet 
thctn for your poriion, your thoughts and defircswSI 
be directed to them, more thaii to any other cb* 

Such manner of pe rfons were the prtmitive Cirit 
tians required to be: and is it allowable for modcfli 
Chriftians to be engroffed with fecular purfuit^ff 
principally attentive to the fupports and comforts of 
the animal life ? No: it is ftiil a$ necefiary as ever At 
the difciplcs of Jtfus to be " tpirrtually n\indedi^ 



I 



JESUS CHRIST. 375 

li gently attending to your proper work, with *' your 
loins girded about," like men in readinefs for a jour- 
ney or any vigorous exertbns, and with " your lights 
burning," ftanding in a proper pofture for the ho- 
nourable reception of your Mailer. He may come 
Aiddenly ; and, therefore, it is for you to be watching 
every moment, left you be confounded at the inti- 
mations of his approach. The faithful and the ac- 
tive fervant, thus pedevering to the end, (hall be 
glorioully diftinguifhed, when the Son of Man ap- 
peareth." 

Peter enquired, whethtr the exhortation was de- 
figned for all, or for the Apoftles in particular. Jefus 
replied : — ^* Wherever the fteward, of approved fide- 
lity and prudence, ihall be placed, if his Lord fhall 
* find biin performing the duties of his office, and dif- 
^harging his important truft, he (hall obtain peculiar 
notice, and be advanced to a ftate of high dignity. 
~'^ j^ut the carelefs and flothful fervant, who, prefuming 
' J vpon the delay of his Lord's return, fball abufe the 
confidence repofed in him, fMid proceed to afts of op- 
" iveiSoD and intemperance, (hall be awfully furprifed 
~^ ifl tfte midft of his fin and folly, and inftantly de- 
^ ^ j(royed without remedy. The man, who clearly un- 
^"^ ^crftands and yet defpifes his Matter's will, (hall feel 
"^^ th& grcateft feverity : for the degree of future punifh- 
^^° qncnt ih^ll be proportioned to the advantages and op- 
'^ portunities enjoyed upon earth, according to that 
^ suitable maxim, " Unto whomfoever much is givenj 
^ pf him (ball be much required." 
5 ■ ' The admonition Ihould roufe us to a ferious en- 
*^ ^uiry. How we are acquittijig ourfelves in our refpec- 
:^tive places. Are we properly fulfilling our truft? 
**^If our Lord (hould appear, could we meet him with 
P*joy, or expcA a favourable reception from him ? 
^^Are we waiting for his coming? On the contrary, 
^^ti"© we not negligent and treachercus, . endeavou' 
^^io put away from us the thought of d^xh 2c^& *^ 




SCRIPTUItE CHARACTERS* 

ment ? One thing, however, wc muft allow; we have 
had clear information in our duty: repeated calls and 
exhortations to it have been addreficd to our con- 
fciences by religious books, fi lends, and minifterst 
Miichi indeed, in various ways, has been committed 
to us; which J if we remain impenitent, will render 
our guilt more heitious and our condemnation more 
aggravated. 

Many might be looking for temporal advantages 



from the fervii 
their miftake, 
contentions win ■■« 
pel; yet, afBi£lJ 
carneftly wifh, tl 
myfeJf extreme ai 
the whole before 
BiS^ and feel th. 
event to be accompiiincu 
fore, be content to be c 



1 therefore, to obviate 
■*" The moft violent 
ifequence of my Gof- 
nay be, I cannot but 
d ready begun, I have 
ire; and, though I fee 
3 enter upon the con- 
t deRres for the great 
t my followers, there- 
id and hated ; for my 



kingdom, though calcmaied to produce univerial 
peace, will occafion the moft unnatural and furious 
contefts, becaufe of the general prejudice and ennrity 
againft it. Many of thofe, who are united by the 
ftrongeft ties of kindred, will now forget their mutual- 
obligations, and be incenfed againft each other. Tbit 
muft be afcribed to the perverfenefs of men, who re- 
jeft my do<Strine againft the cleareft evidences. They 
are attentive enough to the common concerns of life, 
and difcover fome ingenuity in judging of the wind 
and the weather : but ah ! how ftupidly unmindful of 
the furprifmg teftimonies, which God has given of 
his Son! Might not reafon itfelf have led them to a 
more confiftent determination? Is there any one 
liable to be convided of an offence, for which he may 
fuiFer the fevereft penalties of the law, who will not 
be difpofed to feek reconciliation with his adverfary, 
while agy terms can be obtained? Give diligence^ 
then, to procure forgivenefs with your oflFcndcd God, 

before 



JESUS CHRIST. 381 

"before he proceed againO: you and fummon you to 
judgment, when nothing but rigorous juftice can be 
expeded, and tlie everlafting punifhment, due to your 
iniquities, muft be inflifted on you/* 

Let us ferioufly attend to thele declarations of our 
Redeemer. The verjr efFe6ls, which he foretold, 
have taken place: furious and bloody perfe^utions 
have been raifed againft the profeffors of his Gofpel ; 
and, even to this day, they are generally oppofed and 
hated by fome of their neareft relatives. Let us not, 
however, be intimidated by the profpeft of any diffi- 
culties in his fervice; but, while we contemplate his 
courage and zeal in meeting death itfelf for our fakes, 
let us cheerfully follow him. We blame the ftupi- 
dity of the Jews in their obftinate rejeftion of the 
Meffiah ; but do we difcern the charader of Jefus, 
and unfeignedly fubmit to him? O let us gladly ac-. 
cept his mediation, that we may not come under the 
wrath of our Almighty God, as we have deferved, 
nor be caft into that prifon, from which there can be 
no deliverance ! 

Some of our Lord's audience acquainted him with 
the terrible (laughter of certain feditious Galileans, 
whom Pilate had put to death, even while they were 
offering their facrifices *. But, without paffing any 
judgment on their cafe, he endeavoured to turn the 
attention of the people to their own perilous fituation, 
reprefenting them all as equally in a ftate of ruin, and 
expofed not merely to temporal calamities but to 
eternal perdition, without an entire change and reno- 
vation. Thofe, who are deftroyed fuddenly and by 
any fingular afflidion (as the Galileans, and others 
who had been killed by the fall of the tower of Si- 
loam), are often confidered as offenders of the moft 
atrocious kind, marked out by the vifitation of an 
angry God, as monuments of his peculiar vengeance. 

# 
4^ Luke xlii. x^ &«• 




SCRIPTURE CMAHACTEdS- 

Bii ''*»& ba* here taught us, not to decide againft 
(q rafti a matiner, or to fet ourfelvcs above 

,.p «, i^at feriouily to remcmbep our own danger and 

the abfolute necellity of our conveHion. For he fo- 
Icmnly declared, twice together, *' Except 3^ rep6nr, 
ye fliaJl all likcwife perifh/' h this awful aflcrtion 
fufficiently regarded f Do not manj draw the moft 
unchantdbie concluilons agahift others, and prefump- 
tuoufly flatter thfimfdves on their fuppofed compara- 
tive excellence"' ' i:» '* ' that per fons of a very 
profligate char; * hi rred the divine difplca- 

ill re and mufl be icfor t thofe, who have been 

regular in their condi lot bear to be ranked 

upon a level with then., lieve that there is any 

need of deep contrition h sttifelves. This is in- 
deed a fataJ delufion: fi e all inherit a natural 
depravity^ all nrnft be r and fan^ified ; or e!fe 
ialvation is impoflible. 

To imprefs them with a knfc of their dangerj Je- 

fus delivered a parable. A fig-tree, planted in a well 

cultivated foil, difappointed the owner's wiChe'i foF 

three years together, as it produced nothing, but only 

cumbered the ground; and therefore he diredted it to 

be cut down. The fervant, to whom the care of th« 

trees was committed, requcfted that it might be 

fpared one year longer, tiil further expedients were 

tried ; and then it was agreed, that, if it ftill conti*- 

nued barren, it muft be deftroyed as utterly hopelefs. 

The inftrudtions, hereby conveyed, are obvious. It 

is, furely, a reafonable injundion, that thofe, who are 

placed in the Church, under the culture of religious 

means and ordinances, fliouW bring forth fruit unto 

God. But ah! how many, even in fuch a favoured 

ation, remain unprofitable, and therefore muft be 

leafifig to God. Through the intercef&on of b» 

«, or the prayers of his minifters, he maygra* 

'v delay his threatened vengeance; biit the time 

i ence is limited, and, if repeated warnings 

4 produce 



JESUS CHRIST. 3^3 

produce no good effeft upon them, the ftroke ofjuC* 
tice muft fail; and they fhalL feel the weight of his 
iBdignatton. 

As JeTus travelled through GaJilee, he attended 
the public woHhip of the Synagogues on the fabbath. 
In one of thefe afierablies, a poor unhappy woman^ 
who had been bowed together by infirmity for eighteen 
years, excited his compaiSion; and inftantly, without 
any foHcitation, he reftored her to health and vigour* 
Siich a miraculous difplay of power and benevolence 
(bould have drawn forth praifes from every tongue. 
But the ruler of the Synagogue objefted to it with 
indignation, as if it had been a profanation of the fa* 
cred day. Jefus, however, convidled him of the 
groffeft hypocrify in his pretended zeal for God, and 
defended his own conduct in relieving this afflidled 
creature, from the attention which they all paid to 
their very cattle on the fabbath. ASs of mercy, wfl 
obferve^ as well as thofe of neceffity, are not prohi- 
bited as an infringement of the holy reft. His ene- 
mies, therefore, were aftiamed of their oppofition ; 
and the common people were the more attached to 
him for his wonderful operations. On that occafion 
he repeated the parable of the grain of muftard*feed, 
and that alfo of the leaven, in both which he repre- 
fented the gradual and very extenfive enlargement of 
his fpiritual kingdom, notwithftanding the refiftance 
it fliould meet with. The hatred and violence of 
men fliall not fruftrate the counfel of God. His 
Gofpel ftiall fpread; and its blcffed influence (hall be 
felt and acknowledged, through all the nations of the 
earth. 

Our Lord proceeded from one city and village to 
another, diredting his courfe to Jerufalem. In every 
place he fcattered the good feed of divine truth, dili- 
gently improving the Ihort time, which now remained 
for him in the world. Upon the road, as it ihould. 

feem. 



3f+ SCRIPTURE CHARACTERS- 

fecm, a queftion was put ta htm by one of the com* 
panjr, " Lord J are tlxere few that be faved?'' The* 
enquiry was probably made through vain ctrriofitr, 
which Jcfws never gratified: and therefore^ infeJ 
vf giving a direct aiifwer, he thus addrHTed bbfdf 
ro the confciences of the people, exhorting them to 
be earreftly folicitous for their own falvation, ote 
than to indulge any fubde fpeculations about that of 
Dthers. 

" The path to heaven lies t!i rough a ftrait gaft^ 
which is diiicult of accef% and your entranccj pr<5- 
bably^ may be refifted by numerous enemies. Be d(« 
therefore difcouragedj but contend for admiilianm 
tlie moft refolute mEiiner, and break throuoh evcrr 
obftrudtion, Many^ who are totally indrfterenf about 
eternal life, or refufe to go in the only appointed wa/, 
will (hortly find, that the door is finally and for ner 
barred agatnft them. It will then be too htc b 
them to implore the divine mercy. Thoui^h tliejcry 
ever fo importunately, " LorJ^ Lord, open unto n$^'' 
the great Mafter of the houfhold will replv* " 1 knor 
you not/' He will not admit the plea of their forratr 
high privileges or honourahJe fituation in the Churclj; 



JESUS CHRIST* 38$ 

fiate of ptculiar exaltation in my kingdom ; and not a 
few of thofe, who are here diftinguilhed above others 
by their religious advanfages, (hall then be marked 
out, for their contemptuous abufe of them, by the fe- 
▼crcft vengeance." 

Does not the folemn admonition excite an alarm 
in us, who are plated in the Chriftian Church, and 
favoured with an evangelical miniftry? Let us not 
preTume upon our external privileges, but confider, 
how much is to be done. Let us be roufed from our 
ftupor; for " it is high time to awake out of fleep." 
If we be diftrefled by the fear of finding the dofor 
barred againft us, let us now look unto Jjfus, and 
cry^ with all the ftrength and vigour of our fouls, 
^ Lord, Lord, open unto us," and our application 
Wifl infanibly fucceed. 

On the fame day, on which our Lord had delivered 
the exhortations laft mentioned, intelligence was 
brought him, that Herod, the governor of the coun- 
try, was determined to deftroy him. This was faid, 
with an intention of intimidating him from profecut- 
ing his labours in thofe parts. But Jcfus could not 
be terrified ; and therefore he replied, by a mefla^e 
to the crafty and perfecuting prince, that, in fpite of 
all his fcheme?, he would proceed with his work, 
performing the moft miraculous and beneyolent ope- 
rations, a little longer; that very fhortly he fhouJd 
finifti his courfe; and yet, that he fliould lay down 
his life, not in Galilee, where he then was, but in Je- 
rafalem, the grand feat of perf-cution. The example 
tenches us not to be difmayed, whoever may t'lrcat^n 
or oppofe us in the proper execution of our office. 
Let us faithfully attend to our refpedive duties, and 
perfevere in them, though furrounded by d.ngers. 
We fhall walk but a few days more; and the God, 
whom we ferve, will protect us, till the end of our 
prefent appointment be anfwercd. O that we may 

Vol. in. S clufe 



JO 
u ^ 



troke for* ";» That was w»^ . ^^,eenlM*« 
«tteUy, »n^ A!citv»asJrf"*^*S; declared^ <!* 

^oe^e ft"" "*>=*"' »'«";": ,„«*«■*« 



." JKUS CHRIST* 3*^ 

3ice, welcome the Saviour, who brings with him 
irdon, peace^ and eternal life! Let us take up our 
tords now, with unfeigned faith, and we fhall 
leak them with confidence and joy at the laft day^ 
Blefled is he,' tint cometh in die name of the 
rOfdl" Amen. 



I 

i 



$2 JES^US 



ass 



SC&IPTPM CHAtACTgKS# 



JfSUS CHRIST^ 



SECT. %ۥ 



yf'%$ JinfJ with a Pharifie $H tbi Jaiiatb'^lHUil 
V* f^jy — iHculcatid humility iinda regard U tbifift^X 
Mi.V4rfd the parahU of the great fufpgr — wanuitk\ 
f:inv€rs to prepqnfor fuffering'^vindicatii lniet^\ 
"tt%tim tsfinners by the parables oftbe Jf^fietf^ikf 
^ AV f/fuver'-^afut the prodigal Jon. 

If our review of the life of Jefus affed us, as it'] 
ouc.ht, it will not only produce in us an admiratkn 
of his excellency, who is " fairer than the children 
of men," but it will regulate our conduft and fanflify 
our dlfpofitions. While we "behold the glory of 
the Lord," we fhall be " changed into the fame 
image *.'* Let us pray continually, that we may feel 
this influence from his example j fo (hall we be fol- 
lowers of the Lord, " not in word, neither in 
tongue, but in ocod, and in truth." 

Jefus was travelling through Galilee towards Jeru- 
ftlem; and, probably in that journey, a principal 
Pharifee, a man of rank, invited him to dinner t« 
It might fecm an adl of condefcenfion in a perfon of 
eminence, to afk or admit fuch a gueft into his houfc^ 
as app^arc* ich his inferior. But a favour 

^as confi 5 Pharifee, rather than on Jefus. 

The nic onarch might have faid with rea- 

4 "t Luke xiv, I, &C. 



irfi, << Lord, I am not worthy that thou (Hoaldft 
finrne under my roof." It was an inftance of ^^ the 
Viceknefs and gendenefs of Chrift/' that ht trouch- 
6fed to converfe freely With finful cretoire^, and dif- 
tevrred no diftance in hlis behavibuf . He readily 
Mre his company to thoft, who dcftr^d it; not in- 
Sked for his cvwn plea&re, or the coifvdhtefice ef eat- 
iag with them, but for their benefit. Be «< fooghti 
B^ his own profit, but the frrofit of many, that they 
fluight be iaved." 

• As this occurred on t^ frfibath, we infer, thsttte- 
ligion does not require ud ta refufe all intercourfd 
with others throughout thait day. Thefe may b^ 
■Uroper occafions for Mendly tHits in fohie parts of 
U I but we ihoifld bt (Ht^iy to matmnn at fprrft tni 
Mn^er&don^ fuhaUe Co iCH grand defign. The ex- 
ample of Jefus caiifi6t te adduced in vindication of 
thHri! vanity end diffipatidny by which it is To gen^r- 
aOy perverted and pr6fiM«d. 
- It jQiould feem, that sAany perfbns W^ef aflefnUed 
m the Pharifce's ti^ci ttM fetch ?ti were not Well 
wSk€ttd to Jefus; for « they Watched him/' Per- 
lMp9 the invitation W*^ givcA', hot from kiitdnefs, but 
aialevol^nce, on pufpofe to pafe tht moft invidious 
Qcnfures upon him. ffdw odious the difpfbfiiion of 
tboffe^ Wh6areeagk-fty0d in fcrutinizing tli« condirfl: 
of Mhefrs, and whtr re}oide to find arry real 6bje61:"ronS 
j^ainft thcrfr ! And yet y&j^ who are the f<riifrftil dif- 
oipte» of Jefujp, are fre^ent>y placed irf thfi iWidft of 
i«ch malignant obfervers. Their att^rtfron is fixed 
ifpon you, with a view, nM to command: what is^ 
laudable, but to difcovftr and expofe yonf fa^Us, that 
^ they may reproach that holy rwme^ by which you 
wn called. You, therefore, fhould be vigilant, as 
well as they; that their wiOies may be defeated, and 
they themfelves aftiamed, when they (hall fee the wif- 
dom and confiftency of your deportment. 

S3 K ^^x^ow^ 



390 SCRirT0»B CKASACTX&S. 

A perfim, wbo was prefen^ aflUacd wiA# 
Aropfyy excited die compoffionaUe regard cf fcM 
who^ knowing that the lawyers mad PharHecftim- 
liiin were ieekuiig for an accuikdoo agaiiA ^'^i'^ 
pealed t» them, whether ic wouM be aaj TMiriill; 
the&bbath to performa cure on thatdif. TM' 
tme unaUe to reply; while iie^ lunDind&il «f w 
ceoTures, inftantly reftored the difeaied orao to poM 
healds obfervuifi; to them, that, however tbtjaMI 
ob|ea to this a^ of mercy, they would oone offtSii 
fcniple to relieve their very cattle in <iiflre&..- Tkr 
fck the force of his words, and were roniiadtp' 
Thus likewife^ it firequendv happena, that ^tm' 
aues of religion ate fiiddeoiy reftraincd md Jujritf 
hyaferiousremarkor^folram addreft to tk^^oo^ 
Ibences. Lee u not^ therdimi be detemd'bf Mt^ 
jdHinnt defigns, but nerfevece in the padrofdabiti 
Jdas i|oe oaly iuflified himfd^ hot rcpfordNMii^ 
Ibrtheir pride and love of precedency. He tookaoii^l 
rin^ that they were all ambitious of the higfaeftfals 
«t the laUe, and argued diat fuch a contentionftr 
|bees of honour was extremely difgufting, and dut 
ft woidd be much more becoming to give way to 
^^CTV He fljewed, that an arrogant fpirit is 
^t^«is,aiKl, while It claims refpedi, incurs conteimt^ 
gn the contrary, that a modeft and humble depoit- 
mhkh Teems to fhun obfcrvation, in&IIiUr 
lirs efteetn. Thts is the cafe in thexommoft 
ifcof men; and it holds true, if we apdv 
r tonper and condua towards God. « He 
die proud, and giveth grace to the humble*/' 
*■ oot allow, that it is incumbent upon us, 
' ICC, " to take the lowcft room?" Yet 
^ the Apoftolic injunaions regarded or 
II In lowliness of mind^ let each efteem 




other 



jisus cHRisr* 391 

ther better than themfelvcs:*' " in honour preferring, 
ne another * !" 

Jefus continued to deliver the-moft (erious inftruc- 
ens and adnionitions to the company before him. 
Vith a reference, no doiibt,. to their general fpirit 
nd praftice, while he addreffed himfel^tatheperfoii 
^ho had invited him, he condemned the cuftom of 
roviding fumptuous andxoftly entertainments merely^ 
:>r their relations and opulent neighbours, and re- 
onHiiended an attention to the relief and comfort of 
he affli6):ed, in all their various diftrefies-. How 
luch extravagance prevails in fupporting magnificent 
ibles for the reception of thofe, who want nothing ! 
The large fums^ which are thus expended, ferve only 
3 feed our owfv pride and fenfuality. But what a 
Drdid parfimony is Ihewn in contributing to the fup-^ 
lorC of the truly neceilkous, who can make no re* 
urns! Thofej however, are blefledywho,. from faithr 
nd love unfeigned, " deal their bread to the hungry, 
nd bring the poor, that are caft out, to their 
loufes t«" ^ hi? Lord of heaven will confider him- ^^^ 
slf as their debtor, and will render them an abundant ^' 
ecompenfe in- the great day of retribution. 

The folemn difcourfe of Jefus might leave a good 
mpreflion on the audience. One of the company,: 
t leaft, expreiTed his approbation and defire of con* 
tnuing the fubje£):, by remarking the exceeding fell* 
ity of thofe^ who ihould be admitted to the facred 
eaft, which God has provided in his kingdom. Pofli- 
ily, this very man might not underftand or realljr 
vittk for the faappinefs, of which he fpake: however, 
1 order to excite both him and all prefent to a feri-» 
»us examinatioa of their ftate, Jefus (hewed, that the 
:10ft gracious offers of it are made to mankind, and 
ejeded with contempt by the generality. 

^ Phjh Up j. Rom. xiit xo. ^ \U»Vruv**\« 



192 



SCSllPTUilE CKARACTERJ- 



He rrprcfcntcd, in a mofl interefting andafikTi/^g 

paribtcj 2 l^^iL^e and rich iupper prepared for theic* 
coiomodatioit of inany gueils- The Lord GW, Ij 
the Cfotp^l of his San, has furnifhed the grand ente^ 
ummcnt here implied^ ih which every thing i* fa 
before ti«-j that can give deJight or vigour to the iouL 
How valtisLble and exquiiite are the blcIHngs of vrJskJI 
iceotitilh! Thtry ar^ fuch as thefc: pardon, pno^ 
botiniis^ and fellowihip with God even upooeanbi 
divine light, lireng;thf and conibl^tiDn communiaieil 
la the foul ; an infelliblc promiie of an aclmiiBonintt 
heaven, and a present foretafte of its jo}S. ^Vlw 
c^fics not ardently deft re to partake of the fuinptijoas 
hmqmti It it a royal fea£} ; and no want of p:(?vi- 
lions need be .apprehended, for there is a bounn^nl 
and iceihauft^ble fupply- 

Many gueils are invited, and an urgent meffagf a 
fcnr, preffing their immediate atteiidajTce, (inct tbent- 
ctihry preparations for their reception arc now coni- 
pleced. T hus the call of mercy is given, by the pul»- 
licarion of the Gofpel, to an innumerable compaJJfi 
who are earneftly exhorted not to neglcijl the grario«i 
cf*cr. It was firftj and in a panic uiar manner, ^ 




CdMntmiiiiiffrif. T&iA, atisT t&ef prdpobl^ of the^ 
i'Qohd are reiefltcd with ftorn. Meti pretend, hi-' 
^ dte^ tcr «pol%iMf fin: ttfeif e<»nAid. Stcdar e^es 
f wMf 0€cti{MUi<Hi9^. <Sf ddtncfffie' ctfiMofM) fo tb$Jt^ eit* 
^ flM diem, thte fC is fiip{K9iftfd impottble and unnecef- 
\{W/fhr them to pty any rcearrf to tMcir (pirireittl'con* 
i' dam^ Such reafond, furelf, cannot be aditikted in 
4^ TindicaDioi^; nay rather, tbey' will' condemn 



r dfetar, asf proving their hearts to be alienated' from 
G^. Thefc enftplofments may not be finfaJ, bw^ 
MgHH'^oper, if purhied on right prifidpfes^ ahdtin 

' dtembordtflation to the care of thdr fouls. Buf, 
prtkmhVf^ more perfons perirfli eternally through an* 
immoderate and unfeafonabie attention- to things^ 
which are right in^ themfelVes, than by grofii and^ 

[. a^Ny#ed iniquity. 

■ After the refufel of didfc^ iirtio^ were firft bidden,; 

' fl^ invitation is enlarged. . Thefervant is chargett 
lb bring in the poor and' difabied; and^ as- Ajfltcient 
fO0m ^11 remains^ fop^ the accommodation o£ tnanjr 
flsore guefts, he is difpatched in- fearch« of thefe, who 
are dr^erfW abroad in the moft foflbrn and- wretehcd' 
tondition ; and even thefe are to be importuned, by 
Ae mbft cogent arguments, that fo the fumptuoua 
preparations may not be loft. The Jewifh- nations 
qefpifed their own mercies ; but *' through theiii Ml 
ftfvation is come unto the Gentiks *^." Te Uf, 
Who^are " the ends of the earth,'- is the gracious call 
addhefied*. Though we are in a fpiritual fenfe, ** poor^ 
and' maimed, and halt, and blind,'^ we are allowed 
te partake of tfte rich banquet. Nay, though we ba 
finners of the moft abandoned chara<ftcr, fidy repw- 
Ibifted by thofe who lie in *the highways and hedgei^** 
we are permitted, and even prefled in the moft for- 
C9!te manner, to come. Many have already compKed 
t " yet there is room-^ f 



^ritti thr invitation I but " yet 
^ Horn. xi. XX, 



lQ[i<;^uS»^ 



» I 



394 tc&irruslr cvAftAcnms. 

tbou&iids more) and it ■» the LanTs lMluw«ii|(Jl 
that his hou&fludl be filled. il< 

The Matter ia ince^fed, when his Haimkh i^l 
jeacd» and he rcfidvea in hia di^ikafim, i^fU$ 
who have ihewn fiich coiiieoi|it of hmv A^MI 
duded firom h» entertainment. * Thit b ■! PM 
admonition indeed. The Lord of beaveaWfii 
Gonfidert himfelf at infuked, when hia Go^kI imK 
light of. Do we not dread hia indigntioaf Hn^ 
dien, do we trifle with hia meflaeea of mercy? Mpf 
faly> they may never be renewed! He m<V ■N^ 
bar the door againft us,- and declare^ *^TkAm 
ihall not tafte of my fupper.*' Since he Im imt 
diis againft the Jews, let ua fear fiM-'ourUve^ 'Si! 
any man fall after the fiune example of unbdicf** 
Great multitudes ftill attended Jefus in hii F^-. 
grefs; and yet, probably, but few of them atOcW 
to his caufe, from risht furinciples. It is to becH 
peSed, that, amonglt the numerous profeflbrs of the 
Gofpel, there will be many of a fufpicious cba/ader. 
All, therefore, fhould be exhorted to examine of 
what fort their religion is, from what motives it was 
firft taken up, and whether they fo value it, as to be 
willing to fufter for it. To this purpofe oarl/xi 
addreffed the vaft concourfe of people, who foUoweJ 
him: 

*' If any man would enter into my fervice, hemuft 

renounce all worldly views and expectations. For, 

whofoever confents not, on every neceflary occafiou, 

to go in oppofition to his neareft friends and relatives, 

fo as to appear even to hate them, to give up the 

mnft beloved enjoyments, and lay down life itfel^hc 

at have any real union with me. Severe as the 

may feem, if he refeife to combat difficulties, to 

re extreme hardfliips, and to perfift in the path, 

1 • pie or command may point out to biiOf 

• Hcb, m IX. 

he 



JESXTB CHEIST? 

le poflelTes not the temper of mind ind 
lutftte for my difciples." 

*' You, therefore) who profefs an a 
mcj Should deliberate well, for you are ui 
arduous and important bufinefs. Like 
ftiKKtt to raife an edtiice, you (hould ma] 
calculations, that you may know, whetht 
nUh the work, and not expofe yoorfclve 
lion of others. Or^ as a prince, who 
hoftile expedition againft a ne^™wUrti»i-iT%r 
fliould enquire, if you are ( ^*v'p 

meet your enemy. Is your lui^. ..j as ■.. e 

you a reafonable confidence of fuccefs ? It wer 
tcr, not to provoke an attack, than haftily to ruGi l 
the battle, and there to betray your weaknef? 
cowardice. Rather than fall in the conflid, or 
defert your ftaodard, remain in your prefent 
bad as it may be, and prefer a diihonourable p 
a deftru(Slivc wan" 

" Thus you fhould examine, whether you poiTefs 
the neceffary requifites for my fervice: for, if jou be 
unwilling Co forfake the deareft objeJls in life, from a 
cordial regard to me, you cannot be ranked amongft 
my people, or receive any advantage from me. With 
an unfouiid profelTion of religion, you would refem- 
ble the ^ fait, which has loft its favour," and then,. 
iaftead of anfwering any valuable purpofe, as thofe 
who are ** the fait of the earth," you would be ufe- 
Itby or rather a nuifance in your place, fit only to 
be caft out with contempt. Let every one, who 
ddires inftrudion, attend to the folemn adtnonl-' 
lion." 

Such was our Lord's addrefs to his followers; and,. 
ifi its main points, it is perfectly applicable to our- 
l^es. The fame bold and diiinterefled regard to. 
Urn, which, he then required, we al(b mud po/Tefs. 
With the fame holy jealoufy and circumfpeftion, we 
ftiguld learcb and try our hearts. Are we his dif( 
S 6 pi 




396 SCRlPTmit teflARACTERS. 

|4e3 indeed? Whatnotivcs or expea^tnit^ iiwiocd 
us to au .mc that chara&er? Or, what ig our prebr 
plan? Are wo teeraiiifml : ta give up mmyt^liUt 
viucb flandi tacnApmdon wif h Chritt, tiiit he Quy 
be Mr ^ ail in dU** If adicrvvile, tec us not siii a 
didcnUers. wkiiGoAv left we be re)«<!^0d wtdi Mtir* 
rMce, as far Move deccAable ihan tbafc^ who mn 
prctmded to an j bnBHtp 

The fecegohkg exhortation may fcem barft anJ 
fev^re, to p^rfims of a tender fpiritj and thof€i»*a 
are opprcfcd with guile, may be ready to infer, tb« 
}c(ut turbids, rather than-eiicaur^ge^ their ftpplitv 
tio.J to him. But the feDetwing reprefentatioa wtti 
obviate fuch a coneluiioiu - 

Many publicans and fiMieis came abaut him, fli*ir* 
jng great eagernefe in Kf^ening lo bis inftruaions*^ 
Nor did he difdain theif Company, or dnv^ thtm 
from him, by denunciations ot>rt»geancp, isifchfif 
c.:U were dcfperate But his condeicentJlng attefl- 
ti*)a> to them, and hiscompailicmate addrelles, which 
were cJ.clated to infpire them with humbk kf« 
to'.vnrcs GoJ, dilpleafed the Scribes and Fharilees, 
who iniiiiuateJ, that he thereby countenanced the\t 
licentiourp.efs. A fimilar objesilion is o*"[cn ur^ 
a^alnil: his minil^erss when thofe, who hive bee« 
d.iloljte and aba. doned, are di-awn to bear them* 
It is thought a reproach to the GofpeJ^ that it gives 
the m-'ft gracious invitations^ and propofes a. fuJl and 
free Jorgiwnefs, to men of this very ckrfcriptton. B»t 
ti.is is, iu fa^i, its brighteft glory; though it is too 
dazzling for carnal eyes to heboid, and they turn 
iivvay from it with difgult. Thole efpecially, who 
ind claim a preference for their own fuppofed 
J, quarrel with the greatnefs of the merer,- 
•rally oretend a vaft concern for the intereRt 
ity ley rafhly conclude, arc likely to 

Luke XV. I, Ice* 



iibmhfkthfjf iLjn appofieicMir to them, t^ TiriU q»Mir> 
igatimJk Mr be forifaiihoimN- of Cbrift,: d^t *^ ho »-H 

:?JMriisrif infinkoii^ fior tlnir iMfierM»aAAimr4iM!^^ 

vtarn^ pMttdsj «i^ ftvtt tktm^ TMs M;ftlllM6«•«: 
'^]A*^' and: AftbigiiiflMns gnce iiriea{$ vrtikh fliatM^ 
i p i a B i ui.omrr dta* e«ery tir Hi^re^ «iiA |il^ifei.99di 
tt«ftliaii.'> Htf aftsfto a Mgr woctii^iif hknfirif?: «»(^: 
tiifaAv^vbQtkJiovrUd cbamdbei^ ateii^ dMtt y^ry |)iirfrt 

l^rtii^ Bad tte«xtte«ieiuin3&iuMdiie& of aUcAiogp: 
to it. This tie did in three par«b£?$|.>MU: tming ;ttK 
iXhkij^m^tlUfi ahndkdttbe «n4tthdftc«ihf(8 V iH^mc^y, 
flnfitli^riwrjriAnraMlraUe ^nce^tidBy which p(iiii(Hft| 
ftineps); ^iDugtttbt3iE.hawibcmt ivSODimte^ JVloft h4p(t-r 
Ids^ flail ttbast whbfrM* bini. . Lei'lheiirim%Et£b%t 
tMrti^ vifao i» Ircadf ta fin)t':iintp* derpair,Fberenco)ii^: 
ittged t0 tift up hoi e]K9 tori&is d^ Lord and Sawioiavv 
ll£o will not dtfilain tcr t»1p him. 
• A ftriking afypeai is maob to our own feelings, amL 
the ^ctteraf pnb£ltce ofim^ktnd, Whctfe is the pev<?' 
ftm, wko^ lofing only one. out of a nttrrterous flock; 
of flwepy witi not be at pains to feaifcb after it, and? 
esqjrefe a peculiar plcalbre in Its recovery^, etpeciall^ 
if it had appeared unlikely to be found? Our owa 
miftraUe ftate is here exhibited. We have waito^^ 
dered^ far fvom the fold of God; and, though expofed 
tK> want and the ad&ults <rf 6urious and malicious ene-* 
mies, we are unwilling of. outffeives to retui^n. Bbt 
emr actemiofi is direiEbd to< the oompaiffionfaiie eare of 
Jefiis, under the chacracleir o£ ^^ chts good Shepherd^" 
who, with much labooi to^ Mmfelf,. feeks and refcues. 
Ae loA iheep, and then takes it under his immediate 
|HM>te6tion. Nor ftould . this be confidered 99 » 
trifling incident, a matter of indtHSsrence. Every in 
ftance^of the Q9a¥erfion jofra. finaec ifc aa importai 
. . i 5 even. 




SCRIPTURE CHARACTERS. 

and baftncfe, and dlfcm^ers fuch ftrong deflres of re- 
f^oration to the tiivine favour. And what other ex- 
pedif nt can fh^ awakened finncr adopf, but to ilce ta 
his^ otFemied God, to pour ouc hh foul with unfeigntd 
contrition, and t > lift up feis voice to heaven with in* 
cf ^m cncs for mcrcj ? Though he dare not be con- 
fident of acceptance, it will be proper, furely, to try 
the efFc<a of an humble applicariofi : and, if he can- 
not a(k br the priviieg^JS of a chitdj let him carncftly 
folicit at! admiiI5on into family on any termsi 

But his former practices , ipJcs^, and connections 

itiuft be renounced, and urn not only rcfolved 

on, but inlHntly att^mor^^ 

l"he kind and ffjfgi^' cr beheld his fon at a 

diftanccj and, a*; if he gotten hts pafl ingra- 

titude and pcrvcrJenels, v/iinc t w aiting for his nearer 
approach, he ran vvith oi-icn arms to embrace him. 
The pe^iitem youth bep;an hfs intended confeilionj 
but the indulgent parenr, as if impatient to relieve 
his tiiikefs, interrupted him, prevented his requ^fV, 
afflired him of his love by the %ongeft tokeni?, anit 
imm.'diatcly commanded all his houfliold to give tlie 
moft expreflive d em end rations of their joy, inafinuch 
as his dear child, who had been confidered as irre- 
trievably loft, was reftored to life and happinefe. 
What does all this teach us, but that God can p^- 
don more freely and extenfively, than we could* haYC 
conceived? He views with delight the very begm- 
flings of repentance, the firft eftorts of a finner to- 
wards a return. He li liens with fatisfacSlion* to his 
broken cries for mercy, and, inftead of upbraiding him 
with any part of his accumulated guilt, he haffens to 
confer upon him every mark of afFedlionate regard. 
The Angels of heaven, alfo, as well as believers upoil 
earth, are required to exult in that event, from whicli 
♦^^^ mcft glorious efFtcls are produced. Such' ts the 
ig kindnefs of our God ! Who, then, fliaB d'cfpwf 
cei^taLCi or Vvetvx^^x.^ lo 'a.^'^^ '^'^^^ Vvoxl *^* He 



JBSUS GHRISTv 39^ 

him, and going to a diftant country- Tbefe the 
tboughtlers youth foon fquandered away hrs fubftance 
by intemperance ; and he was reducedto the mod infat* 
mous fervitude, and to fuch a d«eree of wretchednefs^ 
that he was on the point of periming by hunger. A 
lively emblem of our finful conduS and its miferable 
Gonfequences ! A particular reference to the Gentile 
world, and to the cafe g( profligate charaders, might 
be deligned. But we have all refembled this foolifli 
man, in difliking the ftrifhiefs of true religion, caft- 
ing ofF the fear of God, and thus going away frbmr 
bim, with a fiill determination to gratify the defires 
of our hearts. But have we found the happinefs^ 
which we expefied in our own ways ? Alas ! far other- 
wife. The efFecfts of our apoftafy have been diftreffing 
and ruinous in the extreme. Like this poor prodigal^ 
we are become deflltute, enflaved, and contempuble* 
In fuch a Aate,.we can procure nothing to fupport 
and fatisfy the foul, and we ftand on the brink cif de- 
firu£tion. How pitiable the cafe ! And it is the more 
pitiable, as few are fenfible of their degradation and 
wretchednefs. 

A change, however, took place in the unhappy 
youth. " He came to himfelf," as if he had been 
till that time intoxicated or infane; and then reflcft- 
ing on the comfortable fituation he had left in his fa- 
ther's family, and the mifery, difgrace, and danger, 
which he had brought upon himfelf, he formed the 
refolution of returning to his infulted parent, con- 
fefling his aggravated guilt, and earneftly requefling 
to be received into his houfe again, though it (hould 
be in the loweft capacity of his menial fervants. He 
proceeded, without delay, to execute his plan. In 
this ftage of the hiftory we perceive the pleafing cha- 
racter of a true penitent. Then only, does a man 
" come to himfelf," or enjoy the proper exercife of 
his reafon, when he feels fuch convictions of his folly 

and 



402 SCRIPTURE CHARACTERSi 

every pent rem fs received. Let them make grxxf 
their claim, and ihey will be treated with fuitabTe 
rcfpe^l. Hut let them not refufe to rejoicej when- 
fhofc, whofe cafes appeared moil hopcJefs, are taken 
into the number of the children of ©od and heirs of 
everlafi-mg life. The Lord God will vindicate hi* 
own glory in difpenfing his mercy fo freely. Let us^ 
not petulantly ohje<i"t to his myfterioas pkn of re^ 
deinption, but drop all our angry prejudices againft* 
it. Let us implore forgivenefs for ourfelves^ as thofe 
who defer ve to perift; and, under fuch a convidiorv 
we ftialf wonder, not that any others are favedy but 
that we^ who ** were enemies, arc iseconciied t# 
Cjod by the death of his Soo^^' 



I •- 



^^^N^%. 



JESUS CHRIST. 



SECT. 27- 



yifui deliviredtbe parabU of the unjuft fiewwri-^Jhew^ 
ed the ufe rf monej^'^iproved the Pharifees^-^e^ 

JcTihid the cafi of the rich man and La%arus^-^x* 
bortid to avoid giving offtnuy toforgivo in/uries^ and 
maintain faith^^urid ten /epers— foretold the do" 

Jlru£iion of JerufaUmi'-defcrihed the nature. of ac^ 
ceptabU prayer^ by the paraUo of the importunate wi^ 
dowy and that of the Pbarifee and PtUUiam^ 

Tbsus dire£):ed his ftep; towards Jeruialem, with a 
full view of all his fuficrings before him, and even 
with an earneft defire to enter upon them» He wa» 
yet in Galilee, and, during his progrefs through that 
country, he contihued to exercife his miniilry, la* 
bouring to difFufe the knowledge of his truth, and to 
give unequivocal proofs of his divine character, 
while we contemplate him perfifting in his work 
with diligence and cheerfulnefs to the very laft, may 
we learn to pcrfevere in the moft vigorous exertions 
for the glory of his name, till we finifh our courfe I 
What, though the crofs lies before us ? Let us imitate 
the holy example of the Saviour; and we (hall follow 
him to his kingdom. 

Publicans and fmner?, we have feen, attended on 
,his preachings and many Scribes and Phartfees, alfb, 
were prefent at the fame time. In the audience of 
them all, and with ^ viftW to their mftxvia\ov\^ Vv^ 



Tns 

:, but 






L:~i --^i Proprietor 
r ir cjr icccums, 

:"-:*:* 'Hive \re r.:: 
" :-; ^:<: : :. t.s for 






4aw.l 






\\r..jr. ::\CA 



n 



jrssus CHRIST. 405 

ij> genserd difizover for the attainment of die lavr aikk 
ViAUig olijeds of the prefent life. 
. JefuF, aHfis improved and applied tfce parable,^ 
labile be thus addreilod his diftriplet : ^RichH» whkh^ 
commonly deceive the expef^ations of tlief r poftflbrs^* 
^nd often are (iibfervient to the purpoTes ef fin^ may 
.yet be employed to great advantage. Byapniperurd«& 
them, you may conciliate the eftecm of tfaofe, whoTer 
ffifindOxip it moft valuable. Many, Mrhom you have 
Ipftruded, relieved, vifited, and cheered, and t^^whem' 
irour bounty has endeared you, msry go Jbeforo you t* 
neavcBy aod, upon your removal from the place you 
BOW fill upi may ftand ready to welcome y^ to the 
fmne blifs^ habitations, where they will conlefs their 
'obligations to you. A very fmall ibarei indeed, of 
vealch may be committed to your care; but your re- 
ligious principles will be evinced by your behaviour 
in the loweft ftation, fo that we may fairly infer from 
it,, what would be your condujfb in a higher* If you- 
^ as unfaithful ftewards in the diipofal of your tem- 
poral fubftance, vporthlefs as it is, how can you ex- 
pert to be intruded with thofe blelHngs, which are of 
real value ? And if you treacheroufly mifapply what is 
not, ftri£Hy, your own property, but only put into your 
bands for the benefit of others, you have no reafon 
to believe, that God will confer upon you a certain 
and everlafting pofTeflion. How necefTary is it, then, 
riiat you make a deliberate choice, whom you will 
ferve! You will be fupremely attached either to God 
or the world; and in proportion as you efleem the 
one, the other will be difrcgardcd. It is impoffible, 
that you can live in fubjecSion to two mafters, whofe 
4emands are fo diredly oppofue." 

The Pharifees heard the folemn admonition; but 
they treated it with (com, becaufe the love of money 
h^d the afcendancy in their hearts, and the doftrine 
of Jsfus ftruck at the root of that vile principle. Tho 
miiiifters of God, like their great £xem|4ar, miift ex-> 

ped 



406 SCRIPTUKE ^HAltACTCRS. 

^cdt to be derided by thofe, whofe pradltces aiM 
pers they condemn : nor fliould they, on this ao 
keep filence. Jcfus reproved tlie hypocrify ( 
Phahfees, in the moft awfu] terms, declaring, 
Vihile it was their obje<fl to preferve appcaranc 
fore men, God perceived their inward difpof 
and that he looks with abhorrence on thafe t 
which Ihort-fighted mortals may admire. Wo 
God» that every proud and covetous pretend 
piety> whofe reputatiDn ftands high in the Q 
would ferioufly confider the tremendous truth! 
The Pharifccs profefled a high regard for the 
laic inftitution. Our Lord, therefore, Temark 
them, that this was defigned to continue on 
John the Baptift appeared, when God began to 
the new difpenfation, and to fct up the kingdo 
Xleifiah, into which men of all charaders were ; 
ing with extreme vehemence. Still, he obferva 
ancient law diJ not fail, as if it had not anfwer 
end; for it received its completion in the G 
which fulfilled its types and prophecies, ar.d enfi 
its moral commands. Li ibme points, partici 
with refpe^ to the facrcd and inviolable bond of 




J^ESUS CHRIST. 407 

•deed, the perfeftion of every preceding economy, and 
by this efpectally God eftablifhes the kingdom of his 
Son. Do we wiih tOcfccirre its blelEngs? Then we 
are required to exert all the feculties of our fouk; for 
** every man piefleth into k.'* The faint defire, the 
unoperative refolution will leave us ibort of heaven, 
the pofTeffion of which is not to be gained without a 
holy violence. 

Before the fame audience, and in order to enforce 
the foregoing admonitions, Jefus proceeded to deliver 
an afFedling parable. He defcribed the future mife- 
fies, which will follow a life of carnal indulgence, 
notwithftanding all its prefent advantages,, and the 
cverlafting blellednefs, to which the fervant of God 
ihall be admitted, however afHidled upon earth. A 
rich man is reprefented, expending his fortune merely 
for the fjpport of an elegant appearance and a luxu- 
rious table* His plan ^was, to allow himfelf every 
gratification, which his income would afford; but, 
"while he confulted only his own wiflies, he confidered 
iiot the neceflities of others* A poor beggar, named 
Lazarus, incapacitated for any labour by a difeafed 
body, was placed before his door, imploring relief. 
This diftreffed objedl was neglected except by the 
dogs, who licked his fores, as if they were more 
<ompaffionate than their mafter: but even this cir- 
cumftance fkewed his calamitous fituation, as he was 
covered with ulcers, which were expofed to the open 
air, and at the fame time he could hardly obtain the 
fmalleft crumbs for his fubfiftence. Death, however, 
foon put an end to the fufferings of the one, and the 
enjoyments of the other: and then how different 
their condition! Lazarus, who was dear to God, 
notwithftanding his extreme indigence, was conduced 
by a company of heavenly fpirits to a difHnguifhed 
abode in the kingdom of blifs and glory. The rich 
epicure might have the parade of a grand funeral, but 
liis pomp followed him no farther. He was caft into 

hell, 

3 



-w^ 




^^^^^^m^^^^ 






n UN 
as den] 



l.tlJ JIBUTI 

^ ■ - . : 

then ubwui a *iiop tj* watctj 

Five bicthrm ft Jt furi Jved 
very tame 4U'p3. He brggcd, 
OH'iTirr.j^cr might be fcrit to i 
fpirits, Ui warn thtoi 
mhich iivaitrd them, 
mtntal 10 T 

^Hu their ■■ -- ■ ^ iCi 

21 '^ hii tornieiir. 1 

u..> ....... 4 Q^ ^'5 ground, 

the iii railed writers ivas fu/fici^ 
titm, and ttiat thor<r» who rcjccti 
would give no credit tn't-ji to a 

I'fae whole reprerenlation is 

moil miVruftive, Who now wl 



JESUS CHRIST. ' 409 

ftnd fearfulnefs furprife the hypocrites?'' Ah! " who 
among us fhall dwell with the devouring fire? who 
Among us (hall dwell with everlafting burnings • r" 

We congratulate the faithful fervants of God, 
though defticute as Lazarus. You pofiefs a h?.ppinefs 
beyond the reach of the world, of which no afflictions 
can deprive you. Though you can hardly procure 
the meaneft fare or the coarfeft apparel ; and though, 
while your difeafed bodies can fcarcely endure the 
^ardfhips of hunger, nalcednefs, and cold, you are 
the fcorn of your opulent neighbours, yet wc will 
call you blefled. Death, which ftrikes a terror into 
otherf, may infpire you with confidence and joy. 
For then you iball obtain pcrfedl deliverance, and be 
" carried by Angels into Abraham's bofom." 

Is it fuppofcd, that ftronger evidence is wanted, 
to convince men of the dangerous tendency of fin? 
The facred fcriptures declare it, with all the ftrength 
and clearnefs, of which language is capable. 1 he 
teftinionies of departed fpirits, who have entered upon 
the invifible world, are withheld from us, and we have 
no right to afk them, or to conclude that they would 
be at all regarded by unbelievers. Let the word of 
God, then, be fairly confultcd, and izs Jccifiuj.s itn- 
plicitly received; or clfe, we fhall foon feci thofo tor- 
ments, which we are unwilling to credit. 

After this interefting parable, Jefus addreTed hlm- 
felf again to his difciples, fuggefting certain cautions 
and diredlions for their conduct f. Some of thtfe 
things had been faid .before, but their importai.ce 
rendered the repetition expedient and ncediul. He 
warned them againft giving any caufe of offence to 
others, obfcrving, that though in fuch a world u^-. 
this, and fo conlHtuted as we now are, cafes of thm 
kind may be expeclcd,. yet they arc attended with 
iwful confequences. It is abundantly better to fuller 

* Ifa. xxxiiu 14. t Luke xvli. i,&c. 

Vol. IIL T any 




fm 

n» the QH|HPBmmptd thai 
t riHci mm^i "be umimitrd. 
cariHvis it ciys Cblcaifi 
Lot4 hm eva ^;'* >or 

Masj QUf be jf^uiiml 

pQCj e iie this ic produces 
AeonttnooQs and quan 
iialUtaiblc to T*^^'"' * '^^^ 
occm&tfki of ovi J? occei 

lod^ lad be lun^s ^nu thus to ) 
pid^wlikh jTOtt reccnre^ b a i^ 
ioirr. 

The Apoftks, it Oioata fcen, 
fenCe of ihctr gnas dt&nldes, a;i 
Amfhoant them throu^^ iht^ wci\ 
Otis priDdpleH arac/ e 

be would tncrcslethf,. 
oi^h gracci that It will bear 
fei^eieft triat, ftjm^then it ' 



will bear mj 
hen It 'qhI 
tcmpCaii^H 
IthowliB 



JESUS CHRIST. 41 r 

wonderful efFe<n:% and enable the Chriftlan to pe?- 
' form duties, which would otherwife be as impoflible, 
as the tranfplanting of a tree into the mid ft of the fea. 
•Yet he taught them, after all their exertions, to 
afiiime no merit to thcmfelvcF, but to acknowledge 
that their obedience to God in every point was no 
more, than he had a right to demand, and that, as it 
added nothing to him, it gave them no claim upon 
him. According to this defer iption, we all are tha 
fervants of Jehovah, the great and fovereign Lord, 
and ihould attend to our proper work, till it be fi- 
niflied, not looking for our complete reft and enjoy- 
inent, before we have done the bufinefs afUgned us; 
and even then we fhall deferve nothing. Surely a 
verjr flight knowledge of ourfelves will difpofc us to 
confefs, that " we are unprofitable fervants," or ra- 
dier, that we are mifcrable offenders, 

Jefus continued to profecute his journey to Jeru- 
ialem through Samaria and Galilee, ar.d fcattercd 
bleffinzs as he went. Near to a certain village, into 
ivhich ne was about to enter, ten unhappy perfons, 
afflided with leprofy, prefentcd themfelves before 
him. They ftood at a diftance, this being required 
of them, left others fliould be defiled by their loath- 
fpmc diforder ; but, having heard of the power and 

Sace of Jefus, they implored his merciful regard. 
c looked on them with companion, and iriftantly 
dircdled them to (hew themfelves to the priefls, who 
alone were authorized to decide, when the malady was 
removed. They obeyed his word in the believing ex- 
pe<5hition of a cure j and as they were going they were 
reftored : for his influence extended to the remotcft 
places, as well as to the objects immediately within 
his view. The fame miracle was wrought upon 
them all J but only one of them, it (hould fccm, and 
he a Samaritan, was properly affecSled with it. He 
returned to proclaim the kindnefs of his Bcncfaclor, 
and his own obligations to him. With admiring and 
T a grateful 






4:' .SCRIPTURE CH.-.?. AITET.!. 

.'. j:.::.1 .iJoraiion, he bowei i: ::^? 'tt\ 2i:wi4i 
' ••.: \«>\c gave glory to Gjc. T:L§ .-ir^TCC ct 
r...-'. : \i I..VC in a Sainaritar-, 5. irrx-rir irr.ecoo- 
:■ t *ca!-.n of Jlracl, was a r.rii^rr^rspro:.:' !a tke 
:v !. iir, therefore, obtained tTis'ptc-'.ar zppif? 
iv- •:'. K-i the Saviour, and was cifrn.iici :r. ^cace- . 
i\ c \vc been the fubjecls of Ch:;:i"> heilin 1 
c"! : Has ni»t the Icprofy of iln ipread ir? poiibaaa 
• .rv:'. over our fouls? And ihall wc not cry H 
■. '- Lius, Mailer, have mercy en u*:"' Tlwfc,, 
. . , *\:ioaie icllored by his grace, cannot but te 
. . X \.i : \e: abs! few of thenrfeel 10 livelvafeiifc 
- .; vxinciV, as they oup.ht. Is there orie oatcftOii 
v% •.» v^is clv-ry to God with proper ener^v and zol! 
\ x-. < tv^t iiKraiitude, on fuch an occauoD, nw4 
.-.>':.;>.<:: You, who have experienced delivenoce 
>% :"itf p-^.vcr of Jefus,' return to praife him; ani 
».•.• : .-.cnu h.irx to the notice and efteem of (iaa^\ 
V..' ■ \ n\b a^ilonilbmcnt and love, you declare vritf] 
■^, v X ^:,> -v- ror you. 

•-.i, .,^ i'o wax nirivcd at the great citv, or, at 
', \».-.< ; '. the r.cij:hbourhood, when the Fraiir«; 
»-'■ yi h:n\ at what time God would eibb-iu 
I-.- V ^^.ioin, of which he had fpoken fo much, U: 
», ' x\i. that they were deceived about thenarureof" 
.^ .x!w.'^%iom: liiat it would not be attended wia 
l..^ ? v\;eriul pomp and grandeur, as to excire g:- 
,.^:..4 V > vTViition J but that, being inward and fplri- 
{ ..1, it *\llled in the hearts of his people. He fug- 
. ..\J .ilf^^ to his difciplcs, that they would foon bfi 
Kii'--:' ^'^'^.'^'^ appearance, in vindication of their 
*|'J,.',' j^U.»:ifc, but warned them not to be mifledby 
*'';,',Joi^» N^ho ihould arife in great numbers. Hi 
i ■' .\.^-v', nulocr^ fter his palfion, then approach- 

J..'^"-'',\ >vou^ I himfelf in a moll awful nian- 

i-V-' \tJ^^ ^e on his enemies; for that hi* 

jvi, *\ I irrible as the lightning, wou!i 

vvir'''=^ J ^^^' ^^ foretold, that many 

^\>M^^^' would 



/JTISUS CHTIIST, 413 

■Id be cut ofFin the midft of their bufinef?, their 
sty, and fenfualicy, as in the days of Noah and 
[Lot, when thoufends periflied, in the former cafe 
Lhe flood, and in the latter by fire and brimftone 
31 heaven. And,, as this tremendous defolation 
uld be accomplifhed (b quickly, he directed his 

iples to flee for their lives, at the very firft com- 
dcement of the troubles, without attempting to 
jrc any of their pofleffions, left they alfo, through 

attachment to worldly things, like Lot's wife, 
nld be involved in the general ruin. He pre- 
yed, that in this public devaftation the moli pain- 

feparations would be made, the neareft friends di« 
<d, the moft intimate connedtions broken ; fo that^ 
Ltre two perfons ihould be united in the clofeil 
ndsy the one (hould be refcued by a peculiar act 

grace, and the other fcft to peri ft. 
It was enquired, where the terrible deftruf^ion 
»utd take place; and our Lord replied by a pro- ' 
rbial expreflion, that the eagles Would be gathered 

the carcafe. This feemed a plain intimation, that' 
s Romans, whofc enfigns bore the image of the eagle, 
Duld be the inftruments of that calamity, and that 
cy would fly as that ravenous bird to the prey. It' 
ight alfo be intended to imply, that, wherever ob- 
hate finners are marked for ruin', the judgments of 
od will find them out, and haften with an unerring' 
ti to accompli fli their perdition. 
The awful fubjedfc will be afterwards rcfumed. 
>r the prefent, we obferve, that the prophecies of 
fiis, which clearly referred to one fignal event, 
rre all in due time exa6^1y accomplifted. Jerufa- 
•n was given up to entire defolation, the unbelieving 
w< perifhed miferably, and the Chriftians, obeying 
r Lord's directions, obtained a memorable deliver- 
ce. Are we not, then, here inftrucled, that " it 
a. fearful thing to fall into the hauds oi x!cv^\\n\^^ 
T 3 - A^^^ 



;t^vl 



ar o 



%hm^>&i^^^ 



may we 

c'- the o 
■': Savjc 



2 po&btlity of e^c^ 

pointed refuge; 

.iheiths tbc fwoti 

t Itiokeof jafticc 

a view to encoiin^ 

rMfc^ of their ap|>roidiia 

rrd tbem to pray, and to i 

uiceafiog ardour |. Let 

^^ Men ougbt AtwAVS.tq 

I uU the various drcumft 

difficuiiics attehd 



JESUS CHRIST. 415 

to renew our applications to him with frefh vigour, 
and *' give him no reft," till he vouchfafe to grant us 
deliverance and comfort. 

The eiiicacy of fuch a continued fervour in our ad- 
dreiles to God, is exhibited in a fhort parablei A 
poor diftrcffed widow, under great cppreilion, ear- 
neftly folicited the inti^rference of a magiftrate \;\ her 
behalf, that fhe might obtain juftice. He, bein^ 
deftitute of every good principle both toward God, 
and man, refufed for fome time to undertaice her 
caufe; but at length he confented, merely that he 
miehc be freed from the trouble of her importunity. 

JIfclus has direfted us to draw the proper conclufioii 
torn this little hiftory. The Lord God may feem 
regardlefs of the inceflant cties of his afflicted people, 
for a confiderable feafon : but ftill they fhould perfe- 
vcre in their ardent fupplications, and expert his gra- 
cious interpofition. Like holy Jacob, they fhould 
wreftle witn him, and fay, " I will not let thee go, 
except thou blefs me," Then he will refcue them 
frgm the oppreiTion of their fpiritual enemies, and 
fatisfy the delires of their fouls. Yet, great as this 
encouragement is, how few are animated by it! Do 
not the moft appear diflieartened, and fo " faint in 
their minds," as to grow remifs, and almoft aban- 
don their hope? Thus Jefus lamented, that, upon his 
coming, he' (hould find but little faith on the earth. 
And (hould this be the day of his vifitation among 
ourfelves, we fear that the number of firm and lively 
believers would be proved to be very fmall indeed. 
Ah ! why do we diftruft his promife? Or, if we main- 
tain our dependence upon it, why do we give way to 
fo many diftre/Iing apprchenfions ? Why are we fo 
backward to prayer ', (o cold and languid in our ad- 
drcflcs? Surely we treat him, as if we thought that 
he would not be true to his word. 

Another parable, addreffed to thofc, who boaPed 

of their own goodnefs, and looked down with contempt 

T 4. ipon 



i.:5 SCRIPTURE CHARACTERS^ 

Lp-^n Others, inftrufts us with what temper of mind 

V r -..- u\! approach to God. We mav draw near 

V :■ : r.-.Jc.ce, ip. reliance on the Saviour; but not 

V .:r. prLi" i.r.prion, as if we had a claim upon him, on 
:-.c ^lour.d of our own merit. We are taught to 
tcriF brfore him with the deepeft humiliation and ab- 
rxr^ r:e of ourfclvcs, confeffing our iniquity, and 
; vr: :i:u fcrgivcnefs through his free and abundant 
r.::;, a. revealed in the Gofpel. Xhis is reprc- 
;-.'.:£». ::i :he cafe of two men, a Pharifee and a Pub- 
V.-a::, who went to worfhip at the temple. Their 
principles and difpofitions were widely different; and 
A crv different alfo was the effefl: of their prayers. 

Tnc Fharifec ftood by himfelf, with much felf- 

;":r:c:*rcy, as if he fliould be polluted by coming 

• :- ir.i Publican. His devotions, if fuch they may 

r: r::?d, contained not one petition; and, though 

-r ?rc:crJcd to ihank God, his cbfe6l was to com- 

:- -j;:: himiWf, while he defer ibecf his own excel- 

,-•:., ^nJ rcvo::rtcd the various fervices he had per- 

..,,... J. Uc .L.c^^ed, that he was far better than the 

.,., .; :v . r .:i.u)kind, tnat he had avoided the ^rofs 

-.^ . ,v'.v:i nuny others lived, and which nTi^rht 

X -:•>^: ^-Tf the notorious character then prcArnt, 

^. ,. .: -.* h.:d a.fo been exrct in all ceremonial ob- 

^^ . ^.,.. s:ich was the aetail or his goodn.fs, fuch 

jv ^' > v;:JM.iiK)n ot his hope towards God. And 

^,^ ,: -ix ^^ facnhce a:i abomi.-iation ui;to the 

J .. ■ >cs aproud fp.rit is peculiarly odious to 

^..,^ .. ^• hathdetcrm.ncci, "that no fieih Ihall 

.,, v.wlence. But are not manv, und.-ra 

i;^ ■ ■•''^*r,on, worfhipping with the"verv tern- 

^,. A Pharifee r Let his prayer be tranf- 

-^ ,, angnage, and it would defcribe pre- 

"l^.;^ 'of numbers among us. For thus 

\ ^\'| "r comparative excellence above 

IIj^^ 1 from fcandalous crimes, and 

Ihrii 



"*^^ e of ceruin cuftomary rites. 

And 



fESV^ CHRIST, 417 

And fo long as they exalt themfelves, their moft fpe- 
cious oiFerinffS, wjiether of charity or devotion, are 
ofFcnfive to God. 

But another charafter is here exhibited, and that 
of an acceptable wor(hipper. I'he Publican, or Ro- 
man tax-gatherer, whofe former life, it may be al- 
lowed, had been ftained'with many enormities, was 
compelled under the terror of an, awakened confcienc^ 
to humble himfelf in the prefence of God, and to de- 
precate his vengeance. He flood at a diftance from 
the fancSluary, .and with eyes caft down upon' the 
ground, thus expreffing his unworthinefs to draw 
near or look up to God: and then, fmiting upon his ^ 
bread-, through extreme anguifh for his accumulated 
guilt, and coi.feffing himfelf a fmner obnoxious to 
j[=iftice, without offering any plea in his own^ favour^; 
he prayed, that, if it were poiTible, God would 
extend his mercy to him. To fuch a contrite peni- 
tent as this, however flagitious his conduct may 
have been, the promifes of the Gofpel are addrefled. 
" Let him return unto the Lord, and he will have 
mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abun- 
dantly pardon *." This the Publican found: he 
went down to his houfe in peace, having obtained 
acceptance with God. How inftrudlive, how ani- 
mating is the example ! It is recorded for our encou- 
ragement; and the declaration is added, to revive the 
heart of all thofe who are ready to defpond, " He 
that humbleth himfelf (hall be exalted." For this 
abundant grace, indeed, we are indebted to him, 
who " died for the ungodly," and whofe " blnod 
cleanfeth from all fin." Our application to God 
muft be made in his name, and in dependence on his 
merits. But even the interpofition of Cnrift v ill 
not avail us, unlefs we feel that " godly forrow whicti 
worketh repentance," and that deep humiliation, 

♦ Ifa. Iv. 7. 

T 5 which 



IB^^I^^Ge^^ 



JESUS CHRIST. 



SEGt. t&. 



"JefuSy attending at the feaji of dedication^ gave fight t9 
a man horn blind — revealed himfelfto him^ when ex^ 
communicated^^efcrihed himfelf as the door^ and the 
good Shepherd-^declared his union with the Father^ 
and miraQuloufly efcapedfrom being Jioned. 

Jesus had now taken his leave of Galilee, and ar- 
rived at Jerufalem, There he attended at the cele- 
1>ration of a certain feftival^ which is fuppofed to have 
been kept in remembrance of the purification of the 
temple by Judas Maccabeus *• This was an infti- 
tution only of human authority; but he did not on 
that account negled it, and he has taught us by his 
example to pay a ferious refpeft to thofe obfervances, 
which lend to the advancement of religion, even 
though they be not eftablifhed by the divine com- 
mand. 

In fuch a world as this, obje£ls of wretchednefs 
prefent themfelves on every fide : but we may learn 
from Jefus, not to look on the diftreffed without feel- 
ing the tendered emotions of compaffion. As he 
pafled through the ftreets of Jerufalcm, he beheld 
with merciful regard a poor beggar, who had been 
blind from his birth f. The difciples taking notice 

♦ John X. 21. I Mace* it. 59. Jofeph. Antlc^* b^VLiL\v> «\a^«\^« 
f Joba ix» I, icQ, 

T 6 



423 SCr.IPTUPF. CHAR ACTFrii. 

of th? unhavpy cad-, pi-^.-Jcll-J a queftion o:" curioaj 
fjucu'.ation/ They afkr/, v.-^-r/.^r the c-Iit./j; wis 
rut to be confiiicrcJ uS a p^r:i:ii!jr juJgmen: from 
G^d, for fon[ie heinous traiiOreilioii comxiitted cither 
bv th? rr.zn or his pir^nts. Picbablv, they cnter- 
ti'.n;^ tr.e i^ca of a pre-cxiftcnt liate, and ilippoled, 
i:c::i 7'^ to ihe abfurd d.ctriae of certain heathea 
r"'...:: "^'^^e•=. ^--t t.:e futrl rings of this I'lic arcpunifll- 
r:*:.:* ' i * :~ ernr.s. 

Tr:.is, hixt. try without entering into an examina- 
t!:n i*{int \ ■*.".. n^ry Uilcm, declared, th.:t the afflic- 
t::n was appiir.ted, not as a judicial villtation for any 
rtrmr.rkab!t: < tience, but that the miLrhty pov/er of 
God might be Jifplaycd by a miraculous removal of 
it. He further obfcrvcJ, that his time of fer\ ice in 
this world, which lie knew to b^ very (hort, muftbe 
diligently improvtd, in order to promote the great 
end of his miljion, a:id that he fhouid continue, du- 
ring his abode here, to give light to them, that were 
in darknefs. How N rcibly dees this appl. to cur- 
felves! It becomes us not to ccnfure th; i>, wh^ are 
orrrcllld by the heavielt calamities, as fm. er- a?ove 
c:."ic:s^ or as btarir.- prculiar marks cf r .e di»ine in- 
V cna:io:i ; and it ftiould reconcile us t^-^. the fcvereft 
if. . /x I i r.i I i c • n ? , that, in \- a r i o u s re fpe d s, G od m ay z- o- 
-•V hinr.u-lf by thtm. Rcir.emberine alfo, h'^w L'on 
cur dav of labour and of ufcfulnefb will be clofeJ, \vs 
ivjid exert ourf^'lves with vigour, for the beneti: rr 
»:cr.i-S efpecialiv by '' fhining as lights in the world," 
••.:: we may not depart from life, before we have an- 
.,^-id any good purpofe in it. If we vvo-jIJ iir.Itate 
.^. x-v-our. wp muft not trifle away the few reniain- 
;; '^tf fenfuality or fupincnef^, or omit any 

.-"V' cc ^.of rendering afliftai.ce to our feiiow- 



--,iCS 



'*. ittended to the cries of the diflrelT- 

ji^ J s granted relief, where it w;i<: not 

*^.o Sance before us. We obfcrve, 

too, 



ri5 



— - <-■:.•■? -I -^^ 



4^5 



to the pr:£e -x zzi't. vczz hivs acquired a 
1 for ieirr.lr.z z-.z L -.ctrr.rrf.-::, to be treated 
!iua!iV dark- ir.i hsv.r.g the utic need of 
amin^rlon, 2.5 ih* r.cit iilirerzte. Jefus, 
warned ihm, rbit rhey could not plead in 
themfelves the wir.: o: informarion, and 
' ccit of ceir own knDv.'!edg;e chiefly kept 
t-.nbelief, and srcii'v sggrivared their guilt 
^mnation. Tnis, fi^reiy, vrr^y furniili afor- 
•nation to u=, thit we " 1-aii not u:':to our 
i rftanding," and that \vz pray earneltly, not 
n over to a j jdicial b'ir.dnefs, but, being 
b d by the Holy Spirit, to difcover ** tlic 
is in Jefus." 
lOi]^ continued his addrefs, with a particular 
I thofc ftJfe teachers, who rejefted him ♦. 
. in parabolical language, he declared, by a 
livcration, that whofocver enters into the 
lier way than by the apppointed door, is 
ifidered as an injurious and deftruftive in- 
f He defcribed the real (hepherd, as approach- 
\ regular accefs, which alone can be allowed, 
ling immediate admifEon, To fuch an one 
[of the flieep is intruded: he watches over 
a tender regard to their difFerent cafes and 
J and they acknowledge him as their guioc> 
1, and defender. But they will not pay the 
pcft to him, who is not thus connefted with 
1 yields not a due attention to them. This 
ccd an awful reproof of the Pharifecs, who 
1 to inftruS the people, ^d yr" i:ood 

only inftituted method of fal it 

I intinution to them, that, wlv fcr 

liimed, the true naembers of t' uld 

"■"ait to them, but turn away ith 

Yet they faw not the drV - •, 



John r, 1, «BC.. 



^^ 



JESUS CHRIST. 425 

nfive to the pride of thofe, who have acquired a 
itation for learning and difcernment, to be treated . 
ntelleftually dark, and having the fame need of 
ne illumination, as the moft illiterate. Jefus^ 
-efore, warned them, that they could not plead ia ' 
ufe for themfelves the want of information, and 
: a conceit of their own knowledge chiefly kept 
Ti in unbelief, and greatly aggravated their guilt 
condemnation. This, furely, may furnifh a for- 
e exhortation to uf, that we '^lean not unto out 
n underftanding," and that we pray earneftly, not 
be given over to a judicial blindnefs, but, being 
ightened by the Holy Spirit, to difcover "the 
th as it is in Jefus." 

Dixr Lor^ continued his addrefs, with a particular 
IV to thofe falfe teachers, who reje6led him *^ 
jaking in parabolical language, he declared, by a 
?xxm affeveration, that whofoever enters into the 
i any other way than by the apppointed door, is 
be confidered as an injurious and deftruftive in- 
der. He defcribed the real (hepherd, as approach- 
; by the regular accefs, which alone can be allowed, 
I gaining immediate admiffion* To fuch an one^ 
J care of the (heep is intrufted : he watches over 
m with a tender regard to their different cafes and' 
:effities; and they acknowledge him as their guide,. 
iporter, and defender. But they will not pay the 
le refpe(Sl to him, who is not thus conneded with 
jm, and yields not a due attention to them. This 
.s indeed an awful reproof of the Pharifees, who 
:tended to inftrucSl the people, and yet underftood 
t the only inftituted method of falvation; and it 
IS an intimation to them» that, whatever charafter 
ey aflumed, the true members of the Church would 
»t fubmit to them, but turn away from them with 
Fguft. Yet they faw not the drift of the |jarahl^\ 

* John X. 1, &c.. 



JESUS CHRIST. 429 

Tnore favourably of him, both from the do<9:rines he 
advanced, and the miracles he wrought. Thus, alfo, 
the faithful preaching of the Gofpel generally creates 
'a divifioh. It is no uncommon thing for, men to 
ijpealc evil of what they underhand not, and to vent 
their enmity againft the zealous advocate for Chrifl-, 
hy fcornful reproaches fimilar to thofe, which v^ere caft 
.^pon Him. And yet, fuch is the force of the truth, 
that, even in the midil of much oppofition, fome will 
be fo iinpreffed with it, as to exert their influence in 
its fupport. Let us " take heed, how we hear," and 
examine for ourfelves, without being biafled by the 
obje6^ions of others. 

Jefus was walking in the portico, which furround- 
cd the temple, probably foon after his preceding dif- 
<courfe, when many of the Jews came about him, but 
with no friendly difpofition. They defired a ftill 
plainer declaration from himfelf, whether or no he 
ivas the Meffiah; and it is likely that they wiflied for 
it, as a ground of accufation againft him. Jefus, 
itherefore, reproved them for their unbelief, in di Re- 
garding his former very exprefs claims, and referred 
4:hem to, his works, for a full demonftration of his di- 
vine charadJer. He (hewed their bafenefs in conti- 
nuing to reject him, notwithftanding fuch accumu- 
lated evidence; by which they clearly proved, that 
tthey belonged not to that favoured company, the fheep 
•of his flock, all of whom acknowledge him as their 
Leader and Commander, receiving his doftrines, and 
obeying his directions. Thefe, however reproached 
hy men, he affirmed to be the objedts of his peculiar 
notice, and fecure under the protection of his AI- 
«nighty arm, frcm the aflaults of their moft powerful . 
.enemies. He has redeemed them to himfelf, and en- 
gaged to refcue them from every danger, and con- 
•dudt them to the pofleflion of etetrv^A \\fe% ^'t ^.^^- 
edy therefore, that the Omnipotence o^ tVv^^-a.^^xv^ 
pledged for their defence, fiucc Yve ^xA ^'^'^'*^^^ 



1 


We hsvc only toaZl^| 

' ifcwftom thb pcrTccutio^H 

a drflant p^rt, even V>?v<>ni^| 

fofincrly cKercIfc^ ^^ 

iWted to him, h?r JH 
fccfr, by the V of A 

1 

uho oppoie if* h pver i 
twit to it, H : 
"Were fjivourcc - ^ x . . _.( 
caufc thcy\«ew ihc time of ti 
fear for ouHcl%e$ and cKir coui 
ikels lIloiiM provoke htm Co dep 
fore let tti yield all (erious att 
truth, which is fpoken unto tu 
not the Gofp^! of thy grace, n 
SiMfki ijrtitti ml FmitbimaiM 



JESUS CHRIST. 



^ E C T* 29. 



^^fus anfwtred enquiries about divffrces — Jhewed a iek* 
derregardtoiktle children — repDedto a young ruler^» 
vjarnedhh difclples of the danger of riches -delivered 
the parable of the labourers in the vineyard — hajlened 
4o jerufaUm t9 fuj^er^^-^ured two blind men near Je* 
richo. 

The cnemif s ef Chrift, even whije they feem to 
ytev2\\zxQ fubfervient to his purpofes ; for, by their op- 
fiofitioato the truth, they are eventually the caufe of its 
-more extenfive promulgation. Thus, we have feen, 
' when Jcfus was driven away from Jerufalem, the peo- 
^e beyond Jordan received the benefit of his miniftry. 
To them he imparted his bleflings with a liberal 
liand: for he was followed by great multitudes, 
'whom he inftrufted in the myftcries of his kingdom, 
-and healed of their various bodily difeafes *. 

Hither, alfo, the malice of the Pharifees purfued 
him. They came, with an intention of drawing him 
tnto fome difficulty, or of prejudicing the people 
againft him. They pretended to confult him on the 
iiibjeft of divorces, and afked, whether it were allow- 
able for a man to difmifs his wife for every trifling 
reafon. He knew their malevolent defigns, and yet 

• Mat. XIX. I— 12. Mark x. 1—12. 

•Vol, IIL U condcfcendc ' 



iHM> WtT^ ^ 



Ilivc prr 

^atSf ss be tad other aiore i 

jit tanr oSc 

rvea dke ywi^ ' i 

«rcs!6 tn himt i a 

IboiiM coutt df {uch 

m be bad ^oiie befare^ ibst. 

fiirpfidty of tfi^iinor'^ rt 
cbflti With ihe grcatrft 
Mrd moft smiaUe ctniddccnfid 
hi< Jini»«, «i<l pfQiioiincc4 itis^ 
■rr may fettn ' 
V,., ..„.. k< ' 



JESUS CHRIST. 437 

MicTufive. For why did he fliew fuch a regard to 
ifants, but becaufe they were the proper objects of 
is care and love, and might partake of his grace? 
arents, therefore^ may be encouraged to preferic 
icir offspring to CKrift, and entreat his kind atten- 
on tx) them. They may folemnly devote them to 
im in his Covenant by the initiating ordinance of 
aptifm, even as circumcifion was pradlifed for tlie 
ery famepurpofe among the Jews. We believe, 
ifit they will be an acceptable offering to him, and 
»joice, that " the promife is unto us and to our 
hildren *." 

The reprefentation here given fecms particularly 
litcd to engage the notice of our ^ oungeit readers, 
ad to fuch we would apply it. Inconiiderabh ;js 
ou may be thought in the world, you are not be- 
cajh the Saviour's regard. Let nothing, then, keep 
».u from his arms,, which ftand open to receive you. 
Vhile you hear him fay,." Suffer them-to come unto 
ic, and forbid them not," be encouraged to have 
ecourfe to him, whoever would prevent your ap- 
roach. Caft yourfelves befoife him^ and implore his 
leOing. Surrender up your hearts, in willing fub- 
?Aion, that he may attach them to himfelf, and ac- 
omplifh.in you the purpofes of his mercy. Though 
our years have been few, you ftand ij\ need of re- 
cmption through his blood, and the fandification of 
is Spirit; nor will his grace be denied you, while 
ou wait in humble faith and fervent prayer before 
im. 

As he was-departing from the place, in which the 
ift occurrence happened, a certain perfon came run- 
ijiig to him, evidently \yith much eigernefs, and with 
rofound veneration, acknowledging him as a divine 
"*cacher J for he kneeled down at his feet, and defired 
^formation from him on a fubjed^ of all others th^ 

* Ads ii. 39, 




440 SCRIPTURE CHAltACTERS, 

junftion was more than tlie youth ^ould bear, but 
not more than Jefus had a right to orJalji : nor would 
thole rcfiife to comply with it, who arc truly fenfiUe 
of their own demerit and the worth of the Saviour, 
The merchant, who finds *^ the one pearl of great 
price," will fell all that he has, and buy it *: for he 
will fay, " I count all things but lofs for the excel- 
lency of the knowledge of Chrifl Jefus my Lord f/* 
Not & this man of fortune- He was difappointed, 
grieved, confounded j and inftanily he betrayed the 
fccret infincerity of his heart, which Jefus meant to 
detect by the trial here propofcd* He gave up all 
further enquiries about the religion of the Gofpel; 
** he went away forrowful/' for this reafon chiefly, 
that he was attached to the world, under all hts pio- 
mifing appearances ; and he fooHfhly preferred tht 
enjoyment of his large poileflions to the grace and 
falvation of Jefus. 

Ah! who can refrain from tears, on account of 
the hopeful youth thus departing from Chrift, and 
at lengih, as we fear, perilhing in fin? Yet Ami tar 
cafc<! frequendy occur. We would afk all thofe, who 
feem dcfirous to learn the way to heaven, Do you 
unfeignedly confent tp the terms, which Jefus re- 
quires? He does not, indeed, fay to you, " Sell 
whatfoever thou haft ;" but he may probably call you 
to make feme painful facrifices, as an evidence of 
your regard to him. You muft, at Icaft, be ready 
to relinquifli the deareft objeils in life, if he {hall fo 
appoint ; nor are any of his difcip^es exempted from 
the obligation of taking up the crofs, and following 
him through (hame, contempt, and fufFering. If you 
comply not with his demand^, whatever they may be, 
you lack the one thing, an integrity of heart, an un- 
rcfcrvcd fubmiflion to him, for which no compenfa- 
|n can be allowed. Would you, then, depart froin^ 

^Mat. xlii. 46. f Phil. iii. 8. 

him? 




JJBSWJ CHKrSTT. 44! 

Him?' O think again, what the confequences muft 
Be! Thofe, who know your danger, tremble and 
weep for you, though you feel no pity for your- 
felves, 

Jefus, being much affefted, directed the attention 
of all the people, and efpecialiy of his difciples, to 
this occurrence, while he taught them the pro- 
per improvement. He declared, fuch are the fnares 
of riches, fuch the obftrudtions which they caufe 
to the f^iritual life, that few perfons in aifluence 
\vill be difpofed to receive the Gofpel, or to purfue 
that courfe, which aloiie will conduft them to hea- 
ven. Much is to be given up, and many fevere 
flruggles to be endured in all fituations ; but thofe, 
whofe hearts are attached to their worldly poiTeflion?^ 
.labour under peculiar difficulties, and it mull be a 
miracle of grate indeed^, which will enable them to 
make the neceflary facrifices, in the fervice of God, 
and for the attainment of his kingdom* The difci- 
ples were almoft confounded at this intimation, and 
cried out, with inexpreflible aftonifliment, " Who, 
then, can be faved ?'* To which Jefus replied, that, 
though the ftrength of man be infufficient, the power 
of God will be effedual,, to accomplifti the arduous 
work. To him, therefore, fhould our fervent pray- 
ers be directed, that by his Almighty grace we may 
refift and overcome the temptations, p3culiar to our 
various circumftances in life. 

But how few are aware of the danger of riches ! 
Infiead of fbrinking at, do not almoft all eagerly co- 
vet, an exalted rank? The affluent, in general, deflre 
no better portion than their temporal poflefTions, and 
confider not that thefe may be the means of exclud- 
ing them from the happinefs of heaven. On the v ry 
fame principle, alfo, th^ poor repine at the appoint- 
ment of God, when they ought to be thankful,, that 
he has placed them in a fituation, the moft favourable 
to religion. Surely, we (hould be more anxious for 
U 5 fpiritoal 



JESUS CHRISn 



SECT* 30# 



J^fus Vffited Zaccheus the publican^ who became a truf 
convert ; and^ as he approached to JerufaUnty he de^ 
tivered the parable of the ten pounds. > 

The city of Jericho had been formerly rendered 
Eunous by the remarkable triumph, which Jo^hi^ 
there obtained. In this iamefpot, the Lord Jefiis 
nrium{^ed by his grace> and ereded a trophy in proof 
df iiis victory over Satan. He had already manifefted 
lis high chara<Ser, in the confines of the town, by , 
jiving fight to the bh'nd : but a more illuftrious in- 
lance of his power and mercy is now to be exhibit- 
ed, in the converfion of a notorious finner. Let u» 
' praife the Lord for his goodnei^, and for his won-v 
lerful works to the children of men." How many 
vitneffes declare, that He is " mighty to favel**" 
wery frefh example encourages our application ta 
kn and dependence upon him. May his Spirit work 
ffe£itually in us, that, white we contemplate his freci 
nd extenfive kindnefs to others, we alfo may partake^ 
f his great fidvation ! 

As Jefus paffed through Jericho, he was attended 
y an immenfe concourfe of people. Perhaps, alfo^ 
-jc miracle, which he wrought there, might add ta 
is train. One of this numerous company is feleSed 
^r our peculiar notice j and his cafe is confidered by 
:a^ facied hiftorian fo. interefting, thajt U v& v?to<^- 



451 SCitrPTUHE CKARACTEltS. 

The call of Chfift to Zaccheu^ was no foonef | 
g;ivcn, thun it was cheerfully abeyed: and it is of 
inipoctance to remark theaftonifhingalterauoiij wbich ' 
the man immediately difcovered^ The effect, how- 
ever, muit be afcribed^ not to the word alone^ but to 
the divine Spirit^ which rendtrrcd thiC word fo powcr- 
fiil. With eager hafte the rich Publican came dawn 
from the ifce, where he had takea his /land, and re* 4 
Ctfjvcd this iltuftrious gueft with rmprcfTions of Jivelfl 
joy* He could not but be furprifcJ to hear a perfe^J 
"fl ranger to him, as he might conc^lvcj addrefljng 
him by namc^ and propofing to abitje at his botifc; 
but it is evident^ thai he inftantly felt a canvi^ion at 
ibe high digniry of the Perfonage before him, and 
confide red the offer as a a atl of gracious condcfcen- 
fion* His heart, thcreforej being firft opened, he 
wa$ glad to admit the divine vifitant wichin hisdaors^ 
and thought himfelf honoured by his prclencc. 

Is this the reception, which the Saviour meets with 
among ourfelves? How few yitld a ready obedience 
to his word! ^* He hath called, but we refufed: He 
hath ftrctched out his hand, and no man regarded*/' 
Is there, even with you who profefs an attention ta 
bis Gofpel, any thing like that afFedtionate attach*- 
ment to him^ which Zaccheus fliewcdi Would yoa 
confent that he Ihould abide with you; and would 
you rejoice to furnifh an entertaiiiment for him? He 
is, indeed, removed from the earth; but you have 
many of his reprefentatives around you, and you arc 
required to evince your love for him,, by your kind- 
nefs to them. Dp you, then, fearch out his poor 
members, that you may minifter to their neceffities? 
Do you embrace every opportunity of rielieving them? 
And are you thankful for the exalted privilege? 
This fruit of divine grace we obferve in Zaccheus. 
While he made a public confeffion of his former. 

• ProY# i. a4« 

wickednefs 




JBSV^ CHUIST. 453 

ipindce3nefs 'before Jefus and all the company, he 
^(hed to teftify the finceiity of his repentance. He, 
whofe grand object had been to amafs worldly trea- 
sures, was no fooner acquainted with the Saviour, 
than he exprefled a willingnefs to give tip a large (hare 
of his wealth, for thefupport of the indigent. He 
declared his determination to confecrate his fubftance 
to the Lord, by devoting even the half of it to cha- 
ritable purpofes. The fame extenfive diftribution, 
according to that exa<ft divifion of our property, is not 
1)inding upon us. But we are ftrangers to the love 
of Jefus, if we fliut up our bowels of compaffion firom 
ihe affiifted, nay, if we do not ^' open our hand wide 
^nto them," as God hath profpered us. Ah ! how 
many warm advocates for the Gofpel betray their in- 
fincerity, as " having an heart exerciled with covet- 
ous pradices*!" * 

But you are required to be juft, as well as liberal; 
ibr God fays, " I hate robbery for burnt-offeringf.'* 
If there be any dilhoneft gain in your pofleffionj if 
you have enriched yourfelves by fraud or extortion ; 
it is furely known unto God, and an explicit confef- 
fion of it ftiould be made*" .Thus the Publican ac- 
knowledged his bafenefs in opprefling the people by a 
violent and injurious execution of his office. But 
you muft do more, than merely dedare your forrow 
for the paft. Nor is it enough for " him that ftole, 
to fteal no more," y.ou muft not retain in your hands, 
what you have wrongfully taken from another. Sup- 
pofe not, that your guilt will be expiated by your giv- 
ing a pittance of it to the poor: for fuch charity is 
•continued theft. It is not your's to beftow: it is an- 
other's property, and .if you can find the owner, you 
muft reftore it. 

This ftrong and necefiary evidence of fincere con- 
;trition appeared in Zaccheus. " I am ready,*' laid 

* z Pet. ii. 14. + Ifa. Ixi. Z, 

4 he^ 



n 



456 JCRirTUR€ CHARACT£E5* 

Jivered a parable, m whJcb he reprefented the nature 

cf hU domimon, and the oppelltion made to h^ and 
admamtbed them, that the proper bulinefs oJf his 
people is, not to be folicStou^ for fectiUr honours, btit 
to employ themrdves diligently in their appointed 
work, till he ftiaJI come again, when he will receive 
his faithful fervants to himfelf, and deftroy his ene- 
mies. 

^ A nobleman, or prince, departed to a diftant coun- 
try, to be inverted with full powers for the polTeHion 
of a kingdom, to which he was heir; and then he 

fjmpofed to return in all the glory ^f majefty. But| 
n the nfiean time, many of thofc, who from their pe- 
euliar relation to him were more efpecially bound to 
fubmit to his authority, with great malignity declared 
their firm determination to refift arfd reject him ia 
his regAl charaflcr* Thra is ejcaSly the cafe with the 
Lord Jcfus Chrift, He is One of iUuftrious origin, 
of high defcent, as ** the only- begotten of the Fa^ 
thcr," and '* Heir of all things,*' concerning whom 
Jehovah himfelf hath f^orn, '* That unto Him every 
knee ihall bow, every tongue confefs *,'' But his 
univerfal fovereignty was not to be eftabliflied during 
his abode on earth, which was intended to be a ftate 
of profound humiliation. " He came, not to be mi- 
niftered unto, but to minifter," In order to enter 
upon his government, it was neceffary for him to quit 
this world and afcend to his Father: and then the 
fceptre was delivered into his hands. At the appointed 
feafon he will return with all the enfigns of royalty, 
and with irrcfiftible power. He will come in his 
glory ; and that (hall be the day -of his triumph. 

For the prefcnt his dominion is not generally ac- 
knowledged. The Jews efpecially, who were his 
own people", more than others, and ought to have 
Cubniitted to him with joy, have (hewn a mcft ma- 



A. 



* lia. xhr. 23. Phil. ii. 10, II, 

lignant 



JESUS CHRIST. 457 

fignant oppofition to him, and folcmnly renounced 
him, as their ruler. But, without further notice of 
them, the queftion for ourfelves is, Do we reverence 
the Saviour, as we ought, in his regal office? The 
kingdom is His: do we rejoice in it? Do we cordi- 
ally confent, that " this man fliall reign over us?" 
Are we looking for his future advent? What recep- 
tion may we expe6l from him, when he appears i 
Or, what fhould be our deportment, till he return? 

I'he prince, here defcribed, left his ten fervants 
behind him with the care of a certain portion of mo- 
ney. Ten pounds were committed to their manage- 
ment, of which they were charged to make a diligent 
life, during his abfence. Under thefe very circum- 
ftances the difciples of Jefus are placed. They pro- 
fefs fabjcvSlion to him, and they'ftiould aft at his com- 
mand. Their very name, as they are ** fervants," 
implies their obligations to work, agreeably to his 
direftions. They are intruded with various advan- 
tages, one in one way, and another in another; and 
thefe they are required to improve, as men in trade, 
£o that they may turn them to the moft profitable ac- 
count. It is intended, indeed, that they fhall be 
fharers with their Mafter in the future glory of his 
kingdom; but for the prefent they are appointed, not 
to any high honours or diftinftions in the world, as 
fome perfons then vainly dreamed, but to a poft of 
labour and difficulty; and their moft vigorous efforts 
are necefiary, in the bufinefs affigned th'em. 

The prince returned in full poflcffion of the fo- 
vereignty, which he had expefted, and flriilly exa- 
mined his fervants, what benefit had accrued from 
their ufe of the money committed to them. Two of 
the number, by their fidt:lity and diligence in com- 
merce, had made very coniiderable improvenrient of 
their ftoclc, though one of them was far inferior to 
the other. Both came and acknowledged their obli- 
gations to their lord, as if they had faid, " We are 

Vol. III. X indebted 



JESUS CHRIST* /fit 

his future advent. And m that, not the 
ng Jews alone, but all in every age and na^ 
) rejeft the Saviour, will be deeply concern- 
loever (hall be found oppofsrs of his grace, 
; to bow to his fceptre, fliall be brought forth 
: execution, a fpeftacle to the whole uni- 
3 fball feel the fiercenefs of bis anger, in tor- 
xpreflible, for ever and ever. Let every foul. 
Id an immediate and uiu'eierved fubje£tion to 
ing of Zion.*^ Conft rained by his mercies, 
> awed hy his terrors^let us furrender up our- 
him, that he may reign over us^ and prepare 
gn with him in his glory. Amen. 



X 5 ^^^^i% 







hi 

c: 
c 
c: 



!.it:PTVRH CHARACTERS. 

• -I'. V: filivei, till your cafe mayfcem 

r? c:.i you fliaii perceive Stronger 

f :.»:: i-'d^*c/.f, and finJ his mercy the 

- .-: :-i: -•. 'i . - i'h:,-iu iearn, a!fo, from tow 

:.■ ■^'. :: "F" - •"- hc.;ir5 of the day, and ''to 

.^ ».. v: -f •:- ;• :Vf the j .;ht cf this worlJ;" re- 

-:.':;:■—: z\ ;.:..: orporturiiiics of ufefu!:-ieis 

1 . :: z :■,:. ■.*:-■;.: "e :.:gni cf cesth arrives. You 

:. : >f -f . Vi :: . jirce ani vigour; nor ftould 

. : .-. pir. .:' :.- -^::? :;.riniic:ite yoa. Dcfert not 

--.. ■ -.---"' . r-^^^urr.'ir.e, I:i:c Thomas, to ad- \ 

:--: :-.*.: :: ^ ii-^. -ni :j '• follow the Lamb, 

vr. .r. :i::- :j: ^x::.-' e\ec to the fever eft tor- 

'» :- ::,- c:."z :; Bfthznv, Lazaru? had been 
*: " ••• * •-;:•:?. £.-! ir.arT friends from Jcru- 
•.*. rrr v\ r ,^. . r : .r^i -,*:-■■-* br^jfe, endeavouring to 
:C'r»:z'". zr : .-..-.^r, -^ i.it^^^^s ::>r the lois of their fcNTO- 
-^J.-. . :>:t. lt \ : -i: .-: . -" :h- app^.^,^;, of Jefiis, 
.\.'i-:*."-J-' -• ^ '^-' iizzr-i.s Ar.'.ch markcc her na- 
:..rs. :i "-:•. --^'J " = — : -". .r. ; arri th3.i^h (be fecm- 
j^ :: .::;- i r ... :_r ::ct preventlrr :^ei: ciftrefs, 
."h: t'^-r:.:- L -:p^, tnat at his pra-.-r .'.— - deiiver- 
anr: r- :*: ■.^: be obuir.al. ilcr Jir^.^rr evinced 
T;r- -^r- ^ ^^^^ tiic /.mc lim.: it ^:-;.ei much 
- r«K.';-f- .--'S iiJ reply, wiihour rf---. n- her 
,^, .:;: ^v-5 ^v^M):. or clc:lr.iiive in hc> rni^dples, . 
,c:.^'^'-- --'^ ^'^''^-■"'•'^ ^fjoul.i rife a^ain : * -^ - a re- 

. -r-t^- "^"^ t'»^ tJ^-'id, merely at^th- •=--.- con- 
; .,,,.,-.:-, was not ihc relief {he wifhed. " H- rhen < 
. ..... r." atrcntion to himfcir, " as the r. lurrection 

.. :■:, t'»';t flic nij.hl have clearer concepiior.s I 
. ,,,ited chamber, and be fo ftren • t-CT -' -n 
, ugcc upon him, as to expeSt the miracii- ' 
"^1, winch he meant to perform. His I 
.,ift fublimc, and replete with infl-uc- 1 
importance. He afllircd her, that as ' 
jtorcr, and prcfcrvcr of life, he has rJl « 

power 

t 
I 



jEsirs CHitisT. 465 

power in hioiielf to quicken whom he mil, and that 
every believer, by virtue of aa union with him, i& 
Wought into a ftate of glorious exiftence, which death 
cannot deftrov or impair. Upon his enquiring, whe* 
ther (he yielded a cordial attent to this interefting 
truths (he perfe<^y acquiefced in it, profeffing her 
firm perfuafion, that he was indeed the promifed Sa- 
viour, the Son of God. 

Have we, likewife, fo regarded Jefus, as he i^ 
bere reprefented? Behold, what honour is due to his 
name ! Is he not to be revered and worfliipped as 
** the mighty God,'^ fince he vindicates to himfelf 
Ac prerogative of reviving thofe, over whom death 
has prevailed, and of imparting and fupporting a 
principle of endlefs life, according to his own fove- 
reign pleafure ? Shall we not, then,, (land in awe, and 
confefs and adore the Divinity in this exalted Perfon- 
age? What airfwer Ihall we return to the queftion, 
** Believeft thou this?" It is indifpenfably neceflary 
for every one of us to credit his declaration, and rely 
upon him for the bleffing, which he propofes to be- 
ftow* The promife of his falvation, including both 
Spiritual and eternal life, is annexed to fiiirh. if we 
poflefs an unreferved dependence upon him, how 
great is our felicity! We fhall feel the quickening 
ci)ergy of his Spirit, giving vigour to our fouls, and 
maintaining that vigour againft all oppofition. Nor 
Ihall any thing be" able to dlcftroy our union^with him. 
Our prefent mode of exiftence may ceafe, and our 
bodies be configned to the grave ; but we (hall even 
then enjoy a ftate of happinefs and glory with him; 
and at the laft day, " He will fwalfow up death in 
vi^ry," ** ranfom Us from the power of the grave/* 
and give us "our perfect confumaiation and blifs, 
both in body and foul," in his own everlafting king- 
dom. What an unfjiling fource of confolation is 
here! *^ Sorrow not," then, belicvcrsj " even as 
ptbers, which have no hope." 

X 5 ' jM? 



^W! 



wmmmF. 



h«ldf 1 portifccr Gf 

pabiUj^ tipm 

iody wsi beoQQicofibsfivi^ 

timJBk% to hk Fatiicr ' 
lerisic oppcccinitf of 
tl^ope; od widb m divine nur 
AIsMctLoftd, "^lo 
Jo^ ht CMWiiiiMlrd thr grmi 
(joer* At tott pdVdTid wofftt^ 
! Hk^ wad Inkbt ud vignog^ 
O vlat ivpnfei and io^ uid 
~ ^ Ndiiit dcir firieodi, « 



JESUS CHRIST. 467 

. Will not this be allowed as an unqucftionablc evi- 
dence of our Lord's divine charafter ? Who can with- 
Aand the teftiroony of one, that arofe from the dead? 
WUl not all be conftrained to yield unfeigned reve- 
rence and fubmiffion to the Sort of God? Many of 
Aofc, who were prefent, felt a forcible conviSion 
Tom the view of the miracle, and immediately be- 
iieved on him. But oh! the blindnefs and obduracy 
yf the human heart ! External proofs are not fuifici- 
5nt to produce the efficacious principle of faith : the 
mighty power of God is requifite to implant the pro- 
ber- difpofition of mind. Some, who were witnefies 
af the wondrous fa£t, carried information of it to his 
IV owed adverfaries, and, as it fliould feem, with the 
nalevolent intention of exciting oppofition againft 
iim. At their report, the grand couricil of the San- 
ledrim was affembled, to confult upon th^ fteps ne- 
zeflary to be taken, for obviating his increafing po- 
pularity. The refult of their deliberation was, to 
endeavour by fotae method or other to deftroy him ; 
ind in this they w^re diredted by the advice of Cai- 
iphas, the high-prieft, whofpake by a divine impulf^i 
what he did not underftand, that it was expedient 
that one man fhould die for the peoplev But vain 
'Were all their defigns of violence, till his hour came. 
He retired to Ephraim, a diftant city, not far from 
■the river Jordan, where he lay concealt-d till within 
a few days of his laft paffover, when he furrcndered 
bimfelf to their malice. 

Let. us meditate on the unbelief and obftinacy of 
:he Jews, not that we may frame any bitter inveftives 
igainft them, but that we may fear for ourfelves; 
^or their cafe furniflies the moft folemn admonition to 
us. Let us beware of refifting the evidences, which 
are fet before us, left we be given up to a fimilar ob- 
duracy. Let us pray, that God would put forth his 
|K>wer, in fubduing our natural depravity: for it 
requires the fame Almighty energy, which r^^''-'* 
X 6 \ 



= JESUS (CHRIST* 469 

But her condu£l difgufted fome, even of the difci- 
|3es, who probably condemned it as wild and extra- 
^Tagant. Juda«, in particular, objefied to her from 
the bafeft motives ; for, while he pretended, what he 
never felt, a tender concern for the poor, and argued^ 
that the price of the ointment had better have been, 
devoted to charitable ufes, he meant to enrich him- 
felf by it, Jefus, however, who knew the purity of 
her intentions, and the ftrength of her regard for 
him, undertook her defence. He juilified and com- 
mended the a(Slion, as being well fuited to his dying 
fituation, and as it were an embalming of his oody^ 
preparatory to his burial. He obferved, that oppor- 
tunities of relieving indigence continually occur, 
which fliould draw forth the benevolence of his peo- 
ple 'y but that, as he was foon to leave them, and few 
more occafions of miniftering to him would be af- 
forded them, fome extraordinary marks of refpe^l 
might properly be paid him at that time. He declared 
alfo, to (hew his gracious acceptance of her love, 
that, wherever the Gofpel {hould be publiflied, her 
affe£lion for him fhould be celebrated. 

This little narrative will furnifh an inftruSive leC. 
fon. Let us not precipitately or warmly cenfure 
thofe zealous exertions in the fervice of Chrift, which- 
may appear to us needlefs or extravagant. While 
•we condemn, Jefus may highly approve them. The 
ardour of fome perfons, in certain uncommon cafes, 
may carry them fuch lengths, as would be extremely 
in)proper in the ordinary courfe of things. "We may 
not clearly underftand the circumftanccs or the mo- 
tives of their conduft; and therefore let us leave 
them to him, who knows their hearts, and who will 
not only make all favourable allowances for the fin- 
cere, but applaud and reward whatever they have 
done from pure, difinterefted regard to him. 

Perhaps, you, who are forward to reproach others 
for their intemperate heat, may be much more dif- 

pleafing 



470 SCRIPTURE CHARACTERr. 

plcafing to Chrid by your colJnef?, and hefitation, 
and fear of going too far in his caule* How rare is 
fuch lovc^ as thjt of Mary to ber Lord and Saviour! 
Many will profcfs a ftrong attachment to hiiHj i^ho 
refufc to be at any expenfc for him. We ndz^ then, 
if you can part with your money for his fake. You 
cannoCj indeed^ yicJd an exa6t imitation of this pious 
woman^ fmce the bodily prefence of fefus is removed 
from the earth. But his poor remain among us, and 
they are appointed his receivers: " when fo ever ye 
will, ye may do them good/' O kt not a covet- 
ou5-'> parfimonious fpirit reprefent a liberal di(pufitioa 
as improper or %vafteful. There are thofc, who will 
plead for charity, a** Judas, till they are brought to 
the trial; and men it appears, that they are mere 
anxious to increafe their own ftorej than to relieve 
the indigent. Judge yourfelves : do you not concent 
yourfeh^cs vi'ith doing very littk-, and jet rate that 
kittle highly? 

Whtn it was known at Jerufalem, that Jefus was 
in the neighbourhood, alargcconcourfe of people re- 
iortcd from that ciry to Bethany, not merely far his 
fake, but that they might alfo have a fight of Laza- 
rus, who was fo wonderful a niomiment of his power 
and grace. The miracle, which had been wrought, 
had already attached the hearts of many to the Savi- 
our, and excited the curiofity of more; but the chief 
pricfts, who were enraged on thrs very account, fe- 
rioufly meditated, not only his deftrudlion, but that of 
Lazarus alfo. How fooliOi, as well as wicked the 
dcfign! He, who had been once raifed from the dead, 
might, with the fame eafe, have been inftantly reftored 
again. But thofe, who refift the Lord's Anointed are 
chargeable with the grofl'eft abfurdity. Their wifell: 
fontrivances are ^' a vain thing:" and ^' the Lord 

ill have them in derifion *.'* 

* Pfali lit I— 4f 

We 




. JESUS CHRIST. 47T 

We do not wonder, that they, whofe cafes have H- 
lufVrioufly difplayed the mercy of the Redeemer, are 
perfecuted, like Lazarus, with peculiar malignity. 
The enemies of Jefus, who really aim at Him, dirctl 
their envenomed ihafts againft them, who are wit- 
nefl'es for his name. Believers^ however^ may pof- 
fefs peace and x:onfidence in the midft of oppofition, 
fince their Defender is invincible. He, who keepeth 
them, has numbered the very hairs t)f their head, and 
declares, that ** none fliall pluck them out of his 
hand *." 

We have accompanied Jefus to the neighbourhood 
of Jerufalem, and now we contemplate his remark- 
able entrance into the city. Hitherta we have feen 
that he fought not any worldly honours," having ftu- 
dioufly declined everything like pomp and oftentation. 
But toward the clofe of his lifp we perceive him at- 
tended by a very fmgukr proceffion, which was de- 
figned to be a reprefentation and acknowledgment of 
his regal chara6ler. 

On the next day after his entertain- 
1und°Te;^rV "»«"* ^^ B/^any, he proceeded on bis 

the Paifover. joumey. When he came to the mount 
of Olives, he fent two of his difciples to 
an adjacent village, to bring with them an afs aud her 
unbroken foal \. He direfted them to the very place, 
and fo minutely defcribed the circumftances, in which 
they fhould find the animals, as to (hew his.exad: 
knowledge of things diftant and feemingly accidental. 
The narrative alfo proves, that he could influence the 
minds of men, as he pleafed ; for the owners of the 
afs relinquiflied her without hefitation, at the mere 
declaration, that "the Lord had need of her." Upon 
the young colt he condefcendcd to ride in a fort of 

* John X, 28, f Mat. xxu 1—16. Markxi. I— ii. 

Luke XIX. 29^ &c. Joha xii. 12—29. 

trii" 



.^ 



Iff SCmiPTUHl CHAIACTER*. 

triumph to the city, with much meekncfs and yet with 
an appearifice of majcrty *. 

Many pcrfons €ondii6ted him from Bethany^ anJ 
many more, having heard of his r^ifi^g Lazarus from 
the eravc^ came from Jerufakm to meet him- The 
whcJc mukitudc, as if by a miraculous impulfe, ap- 
peared to vie with each other in afcnbtng all poiHble 
honours to him. They fpread their garments in the 
way, and, cutting down branches c^ trees, part of 
them they ftrewed upon the roadj and with part thef 
marched before him; thefe being ufual expreflioos of 
joy, upon the arrival of any potent Monarch or vic- 
torious General. Under a fuU con virion, that Jefu» 
was the MeiBah, and the expectation of his alTumingf 
the government^ they began to praife God with a 
loud voke, and to fliout with exultation, though they 
underftood not the import of their own words, 
" Hofanna to the Son of David ; blefied is the King^ 
that Cometh in the name of the Lord| peace in hea^^ 
ven, and glory in the higheft!" 

Do we afk the rcafon of all this ? Among other 
caufes to be affigned, it was the purpofe of God 
to fulfil an ancient prophecy. Zechariah had ex- 
prefsly foretold f, that the Saviour, the King of 
Ziofiy would make fuch a public appearance, as is 
here defcribed. The moft minute circumftances in 
this view, as completions of former and authentic 
predi6lions, are important, as they furnifh inconteft^ 
able evidence for the truth of the Gofpel. How ma* 

♦ There was nothing ridiculous or mean in Chrift rlHmg on an 
afs; for, not to mention that this animal in eaAem countries is of a 
larger fiae and more graceful appearance than among us, fome of the 
moft eminent perfons, patriarchs, judges^ and kings, made ufe of 
afles: and, probably, with a reference to that primitive fimplicity, 
he chofe this method of going in folemn and triumphant proceffion 
lerufalem. Gen. xxii. 3, Exod,. iv. ao. Judg. v» 10. x. 4, 
> xvi. z, xix. 26. I3iibop Chandler's Pfif^ACC of Chriftianity. 
'ech. ix. 9. 

nifold 




JESUS CHRIST, 473 

mfoM is the wifdom of Gody who raifed up holy merif 
and inftruSed them to declare very cxaftly, fome 
hundred years before, many of the things which the 
Redeemer fliould both do and fay! No event can 
take place, which he did not forefee, and which, in 
this fenfe, did not form a part pf his original plan. 

Do we join in thefe acclamations of the Jews, and 
welcome the King of Ifrael with our Hofannas? Do 
we, with ardent and devout afFeftions, exult in the 
bleilings of his government, which brings peace to 
man and glory to God? And do we moft earneftly 
pray for an extenfive enlargement of his dominion^ 
even to the ends of the earth? Such zeal as this may 
be termed madnefs and ehthufiafm; and accordingly, 
there are few, who dare to exprefs any real fervour 
in the caufe of Chrift, left'they fhould expofe them- 
felves to fcorn and derifion. But the day of his com- 
ficte triumph is coming, of which his pr6ceffion to 
Jerufalem wa^ a faint emblem. He fhall be revealed 
in all the fplendour of his divine majefiv; and the 
honours of his kingdom ihall be univerfally acknow* 
ledged. Saints and Angels (hall join, with inexpref- 
fible love and tranfport, in everlafting acclamations 
to the Son of David. Would you bear a part in the 
joyful exultations of that day, and celebrate the high 
praifes of your Redeemer? Yoii muft begin your fong 
on earth, confefa his glory, and -pray that the pur- 
pofes of his fpiritual government may be fully efFedlcd 
within yourfelves. 

This profound veneration, paid to Jefus, thefe rap- 
turous (bouts of applaufe, were ofFennve to the Pha- 
rifees. They cried out in a rage, " We prevail no- 
thing; Behold, the world is gone after him." They 
called upon him to reprehend his difciples for their 
officious and intemperate zeal. But he defended their 
conduct, maintaining that the honour due to his ex- 
alted charader muft be proclaimed, even though ^ 
miracle (boutd be requifite to accomplifli that en 

a 




-E^ > 



JESUS CHRIST, 475 

terms of mercy, may appear againft us as our adver- 
fary, in the thunders of his wrath. This, then, is 
" the time of our vifitation;'' for the Saviour him-, 
ielf waits upon us in the miniftry of his word. Are 
we aware of the important confequences of the pre- 
fent moment? If falvation be-defpifed, it will be the 
ground of our heavieft condemnation: and we our- 
felves may perifti with a more terrible deftruclion, 
than even the finners of Jerufalem. 

The entrance of Jefus, with fo fingular a proccC- 
fion, threw the whole city into commotion, and ex- 
cited a general enquiry about this extraordinary Per- 
fonage. Very foon he difplayed the glory of his cha- 
rafter by different proofs. He went immediately to 
the temple, and began, as with divine authority, to 
corredl the abufes, and punifh the profanations, which 
prevailed there. Now again, as he had done before^ 
he drove out the traders with indignation, and vin- 
dicated the honour of that holy place, which God had 
chofen to himfelf for " the houfe of pr^yef.** liy 
frefli miracle?, alfo, in healing the blind and the lame, 
he gave the ftrong^ft evidence, that he had a full right 
to that power which he exercifed. 

Were not all, then, at length convinced, and per* 
fuaded to receive him ? The very children took up 
the fong, while they tried, as if by a fupernatural im- 
pulfc, *^ Hofanna to the Son of David:** and thus 
their infaiit tongues, in celebrating the praifes of the 
Redeemer, were witneffes againft the rulers of the 
people. The chief priefts, who ought to have been 
his moft zealous advocates, exprefled very warm dif- 
pleafure at thefe proceedings. But Jefus vindicated 
the acclamations of the children, and (hewed from the 
fcriptures, that it was God's determination to get 
himfelf glory, as he did in that inftance, " out of the 
mouth of babes and fucklings **" How {hould this 

♦ rfal. viii, 2. 

encourage 



476 SCtttPTURE CliARACTFRS^ 

encourage thofc of jrom^gcft years, to offer their ado- 
rations to Jefusf It cannot be too foon for them to 
learn hofannas to his name. He wUl liften to theni 
with peculiar ilclight, and confider himfclf honourtti 
liy their weak attempts. Perhaps, too^ he may mat& 
ufc of them, to confound the wtfeil and the llrojigeli 
of his enemies. 

The common peopb» likewift, were much affeftcd 
by the doctrines of Jcfus. While he taught them 
daily in the temple, they crowded to hear hlm^ and 
appeared to hang upon his words » In general, th? 
lower orders have been found to yield a ferious and 
eager attention to the Gofpel j but the rich too fre- 
quently, poiTeffing more pride and prejudice, turn 
away their ears in difdain. The Jewifii rulers con- 
tinued to feck theden:ru;;STon of Jefus; bur their ma- 
lice was rcftrained a few days longer* As he had fo 
many adherents- among the poor, they were afraid of 
proceeding to any a£t of violence again ft bim : nor 
could any of their efforts have at laff fuccceded, ex* 
ccpt he had furrendered himfclf into their hands. The 
mournful htftory exhibits the ftrongeft proofs of the 
defperate wickednefs of man: but it affords u$y alfo, 
a pleafmg reprefentation of the grace of the Saviour, 
waiting to ihew mercy to his moft virulent oppofers. 
May we be conftrained, by a fcnfe of his gredt love, 
to drop all our pervcrfe obje£!ions to him, and yield 
ourfelves unfeignedly to his difpofel ! Thus may we 
be redeemed to God, and eftablifhed " unblamable 
in holinefe" through Jefus Chrift! Ameo, 




^^^\3^ 



JESUS CHRIST, 



SECT. %!• 



yejiis inJiruSled certain enquiring Greeks'^warned the 
unbelieving yews — curfed a barren fig- tree — con^ 
founded thofe^ who quejiioned his authority — admonijhe^ 
them by the parable of the iwofons^ and by that oftbi 
vineyardj let to unfaithful hufiandnien. 



A GENERAL commotlon was' excited in Jerufalem 
ly our Lord's fingular entrance into it, by the loud 
hofannas fung before him, and by the miracles, which 
he there publicly performed. Many perfons of dif- 
ferent difpofitions came about him : fome fincere en- 
quirers fought his inftruQions ; but a.morc numerous 
company oppofed him with extreme malignity. He 
varied the manner of his addrefs, according to the 
cafes and chara£bers of the people ; and yet in every 
inftance he preferved the fame " meeknefs of wiU- 
dbm." May his followers, and efpccially his mini- 
fters, learn from him to be " gentle unto all men," 
as well as to be ready always to declare ^* the hope 
that is in them!" 

As the celebration of the pafTover approached, a 
large concourfe of thofe, who profefled to worfliip the 
God of Ifrael, was then affembled at Jerufalem, from 
all parts of Judea. Among the reft were certain 
pious Greeks, probably of Gentile cxtr^<S\voi^^ -wkxa 



• ••- ::?.:? rv.vi characters. 

- ■ • - : ;, .-.» J^rtrmines thar th-yM 

\\ ' ■ •■" ^ ^ •■';^.-:teous d:;pen:iaticD, 

-. r' ' - ;■ ..:'•■-■ -^ *- »^f-- tremendous: Wiij 
•'— - - - - . • ■ i i ■ : - .-. •.-:', :ra: this matter i> per- 
\- - ■ ■;■'■■ -■ -■• r- -""-e:: were coiill.-jiir.ciiD 
*■"■■■' ■ ' :"-.::*.cj rrcm G,:d himli!:"; -:: 

-* ■ "."/■ :"" - ■" --••^■•-i" thoi:^h rh-v mcitca- 
c::.^ ::..-Ci :- .. e. .^-w-red to do i:. This is ve^ 
:.: • ■- :-: j- :. I . :y ire ,c:z to their own choice; 
ir.w i^jc ? r.. ^. ci.::::?;i cr dieni is only the iullpu- 
r.f::.r.i.-: :: iriir critirate cppofiticii to him. Bat 
r.-r-: r." v..:.:craws we know rh::c the moii con- 
r. :. : .:-....; wW. eni\:e.^ We p-y, therefore, «0 

1 , :^<e re: thy Hcly Spirit frcnii us!'* 

y.-y c: :he Jc'wifti rulers fsh a ftron^r conviflion 
:• T-'r nir.ls :hit Jcfus was the Xlemah; but 
: fv L-:;,: ;x: a.o-.v that conviaion, becaufe a public 
cjr.:iruo:: c; hjni ivcuM have brouoht upon them fc- 
^ ::e :i:r:.v.j:: .-nd perfecution, and they u ere ir.cre lb- 
:..:..-> to rrcicMV their reputation with rr.cn, tha 
.-r:-::i :hr raw -jr or Cic-d. How wreiched the cu^ 
A. :::^::-.::;y ;]'.,vr..u: in then:, what they theJi^:e:ve5 
■: J .^-sT : ;:r.^ rhclc, who h.ive not co-ji'a -e to rcr 
. -, .:..:: .;::._ciipIcaK:rc c f the world, in'derVrcccr 
: r \;::.:: o: .xc.::nc nrid practice, which thevirc 
-.v ■."..;.,.:. .< n:clt a-rceahle to the Kicred -c---'..-; 
:>: //proration of" G<d is made Ji^ht cC:^rdV'^'^-- 
-:• .•:cvokcd by hich a condu^:. "Surc-v w--ve 
; si wo much con:'a:ucr.cc to our fcJlow-crc' -"i7e< 
:^coi their notice and dreadin- their an.>er \irh 

■jf conicicnre. \Vhoir,.,:ii ,i ".' ,"". 



, . .... h.ive 

sawoi "■ 

:aCOi ''*:"^'"c; "J-ir ancer, with 

^ if confcicnce. What wi]] thcv be ^b'e 

pr in the hour of death, or in rhe d:v oi 



am them, but he tor.k ano^he-c-- 

ing afolemn ad.T,c:ii:f.^n to th.^p^ 

^•ne miffion, and hi. unk^n wl:h 

Glared nimfeJr- the grand Lunii- 

> Vi\VV ec:mYv\\i\vQj.-^^ [i^ht to all 



JRSCS CHRIST. 4?3 

' fJncere enquirers, and guide them into the way of peace. 
But, though the purpofe of his appearance on the 
earth was to propofe falvation, rather than pronounce 

judgment, he obferved that unbelievers {hall not 
efcape, but fliall be condemned in the laft day by that 
very word, which they now contemptuoufly reje-fl. 
How righteous the fentence, fmce they dcfpife and 
oppofe the will of God, fo clearly manifefted to them 
by his Son ! 

And as Jcfiis did, fo ftould his minifters alfo, 
warn finncrs of their danger. Will you, then, re- 
ceive the record, which he hath given? He demands 
your attention, not only as the meiTengcr, but the re- 
prefentativc, and the very image of the invifible God. 
Can you difprove the credentials, v^hich he has exhi* 
bited? Or v.hy fhould you rcfifl hirn, who comes to 
refcue our fallen race from perifhing, and who brings 
light, life, and peace to all that believe? Do you not 
fear the awful doom, which awaits his enemies ?- The 
Lord God will vindicate the honour of his Gofpel ; and, 
at the final confummation, you muft account to him 

' for your prefent negleft and contempt of it. Ah ! 
how many will wife, that they had lived and died m 
Pagan darknefs, fince the word of falvation, which 
is fcnt unto them, will witnefs againft them, and, 
as it aggravates their guilt, increafe their mifery for 
ever I 

It is probable, that Jefus was obliged 
p^^l^'y \ to hide himfelf from the malicious at- 

r4mon week. 

tempts of his opponents, and that each 
evening he retired from Jerufalem to Bethany for 
his own comfort as well as fafety *. Very early in 
the morning, probably the fecond day of the week, 
he returned with ardent zeal to the city, from which 
he had fled the night before. Having fet out without 
taking any food, he felt the call of hunger by the 

'»•' Maf. xxi; lys— 19. Mai;^x\. ii— i^. 

Y x ' ^ 



I 



486 SCRIPTURI CHARACTERS* 

the performance of his promliit:, or 

will he^r u&. To enfure a favourable acceptance^ 
we fhoald like wife hy afide our. evil tenipers when we 
approach to the God of pc^ice and love. He will nat 
youchfafc his prefence and alfiiiaocc to thofe, whofc 
hearts burn wUh refentment, one againft another. 
We arc to " lift up holy hands without wrath j'' ^ 
well as Without " doubting *J' 

After palling by the barren fig-tree, as wc hive 
feen, our Lord came again to Jcrufalem, and taught 
publicly in the temple. Tbe chief priefts, lcribeS| I 
and elders ( which cxprcilions may denote the mem- ] 
hers of the Sanhedrim), being much enraged againft 
him, demanded of him, what authority he polfcfled, , 
which could jullify his very extraordinary condud* i 
Had the qucfbon been propofcd with an humble de* ! 
fire of receiving information, we apprehend that Jefus 
would have given a different anfwer; for he never 
difappointed the ferious enijutren But, knowing the 
pride and gbilinacy of their hearts, he intended, not 
fn much tr> inilrudt, as to filence and confound them. 
He therefore interrogated them on what foundation the 
miniftry of John the Baptift refted: for, fince John 
had borne the moft decifive teftimony for him, as he 
himfelf had for John, they both ftood on the fame 
ground. This involved them in a difficulty. They 
could not allow the prophetical charafter of John, 
without allowing that of Jefus alfo; and they dared 
not deny it, through fear of the people, who held the 
name of the Baptift in the higheft veneration. They 
were, therefore, obliged to confefs their ignorance, 
and to reUnc^uiih their malevolent examination. How 
Ladmirabie was that wifdom, which could at once per- 
plex thy moft fubtle adverfaries, and defeat all their 

pot many, alfo, among ourfelvcs, like thofc 




JESUS CHRIST, 487 

ancient caviller^, demand, by what proofs.the autho^ 
rity of Jefus is ^afcertainedr We are not afraid of 
bringing. the matter to a fair trial before impartial 
judges: for the truth cannot fufFer by a ferious dif- 
quiiition* But take )ieed« with what temper and mo« 
tive you weigh the e.videnceSs of the Gofpel. They 
are ftrong enough to convince thofe> who are not 
biaffed by pride or prejudice. But, if you enter upoa 
the fubjed with an unbumbled captious difpoiition^ 
probably difficulties will occur^ which will prevent 
your attaining any fatisfa£kion : and it is a righteous 
thing with God ta permit it. Many, who aSbd^to 
call themfelves freethinkers, take up the Bible, with 
no defire to regulate their faith or pradice by it, 
but with a previous determination to raife objec- 
tions. Are fuch perfons, who are evidently blinded 
by their paffions, competent to decide? Or is it 
likely, that, while they refoive not ta be perfuaded> 
Jefus will vouchfafe to guide them by-the light of his 
Spirit ? 

But, though our Lordfeemed to evade the enquiries 
of his enemies, he warned them very faithfully, by 
reprefenting to them, in a ftriking manner, the bafe- 
jiefs of their character, and the awful djftru£tion 
awaiting them. 

I . He defcribed the different condufl: of two fotis, 
who were both direiled by their Father to work in 
his vineyard. The firft, with great infolence, re- 
fufed to obey, but afterwards, aihamed of his per-, 
verfenefs, fubmitted, and fulfilled the injunftton. 
The fecond, with fair profeffions of regard, and an 
exprefs promife of compliance, continued to neglefl: 
the command. Jefus then appealed to his auditors 
upon the cafe he had propofed; and, while they were 
obliged to confefs that he, who for a time avowed an 
oppofition to his parent's will, had yet performed a 
more dutiful part than the othcr> they condemned 






r; a::..- 



r ■' "- "Il.f iL.T-.^DZ'T' ZC ^11 



fZ ZDtM" 






:r T. i"! ^" 



: . "3 



JESUS CHRIST* 489 

appear fuitable to your cafe, as it is addrefled to them, 
*^ who are ready to perifli," and offers, a full and gra- 
tuitous pardon to the moft guilty. 

2. He defcribe^ the bafe conduft and certain con- 
demnation of the Jews, in a parabolical reprefenta- 
tion of wicked hufbandmen, who were intruded with 
the care of a vineyard. The owner lent his fervaats 
to them to demand the produce of his land ; but the 
mefTengers were treated by them with extreme vio- 
lence, beaten, ftoned, and killed. At lad, as the 
grand expedient for recovering them to their duty> 
his only and beloved Son was difpatched to them; 
but, though he had a peculiar claim to be received 
with veneration, they unanimoufly determiined to put 
him to death. 

Jefus then appealed to his captious hearers ; and, 
while they allowed that thefe unfaithful huftandm^n 
. fliould -be deprived of that tcuft, wih^ch they bad al)uf- 
ed, and be.dedroyed for their iiVjC^viity, . tbey^ palled 
fentence upon theiinfelves. J^usal£[> co^fxroi^tbe 
fentence, declaring, thati the, kiRgdf>i|i of Gpd, or t^e 
difpenfation of his npercy, ibquld; be wil^^r^^a^api 
them, and committed to another petople. He furtiier 
obferved, that a remarkafelejiwophccy wasrithe^n ful- 
filled, fmce the very ftojie, vy^ich the builders ii^i^ed; 
was appointed the head-ftone of the corner, as tke 
main fupport of the whole building *. And.be.fo- 
lemnly warned them, that, by taking offence at him 
or his doftrine, they expofedthemfelves to the heavieft 
calamities in this life, and that finally, when his whole 
vengeance fhould fall upon them, they would perifh 
with tremendous and irreparable ruin. 

l^he Jewifh rulers perceived, that the parable, which 
he h?.(] delivered, was direfted againft them; and yet 
the awful admonition did not affect them, as it ought. 
They hardened their hearts the more, and again they' 

* Pfal. cxvVu. 21% 



in 



yodi 



HiVT 



( 



7W 






4#r^,}